On the final day of the nanoTX conference here in Dallas last week, HRH the Duke of York, KG, KCVO, stopped by to give a speach. The Duke has been serving Great Britain as a sort of ambassador for business and industry, and it was in this capacity that he spoke to the Nano TX attendees. He had earlier in the day visited the Lockheed-Martin plant in Arlington to inspect the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 jet, which he described as being chocked full of mind-blowing technologies.
He went on to speak of the promise inherent in nanotechnology, and he spoke glowingly of Great Britain’s role in the advancement of business and technology while partnering with the United States and other countries. He noted that one of the co-discoverers of Buckminsterfullerene (aka “Bucky-balls”, a nano-scale structure of carbon atoms in a geodesic-style polyhedron), was British.
The really interesting thing that the Duke said was how the UK was committed to making it easy for businesses to function there. He specifically mentioned how they worked to keep paperwork an bureaucracy to a minimum for the sake of being good for businesses.
He didn’t toss off these bon mots casually. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOx) of 2002 has required that publicly-traded companies in the US follow certain accounting controls and processes, adding on red tape and increased costs to those companies as they strive to comply. The Duke of York was speaking to an audience of some of the world’s top scientists and entreprenuers in one of the foremost emerging technologies out there.
So, the message was clear: “Come on over to the UK with your new startup companies, and you won’t have to expend as much time and expense in order to do business. Come to us and you’ll have an easier time of it.”
SOx had at its heart some great ideas on making corporations more accountable, and more trustworthy in annual statements and other communications to stockholders and partners. But, did SOx go too far? It seems clear that it could actually cause lots of our brightest new business to go completely offshore.
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