Significant Achievements

The Nature of Scientific Innovation

A two volume analysis of the nature of scientific innovation started in 2019 as part of David Dent’s role as a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of East Anglia. The book will be published by Palgrave-Macmillan in the summer of 2024 and provides a critique of current practices, identifying key gaps and shortfalls in national innovation systems along with suggested changes to policy to remedy the problems. Written from the perspective of an entrepreneur, with a multidisciplinary approach the insights gained delivers a different perspective that challenges the current orthodoxy.

Professor Sir John Beddington CMG FRS, former UK Government Chief Scientist said of it: “This is a very substantial piece of work over two volumes and the level of research that has gone into it is extremely impressive. … The second volume focusses on the various ways that innovators and inventors can be encouraged by changes in culture, education and investment policy that Dent documents well.”

The following from Matt Ridley author of the ’The Rational Optimist’ and ‘How Innovation Works’ “an excellent and exhaustive exploration of the vital theme of innovation, which is the main event of the modern world”.

Founder Trustee – the Pennies Foundation

In the August of 2005 David conceived of the idea for rounding-up of transactions at the PIN card terminals to give donations to charity. After three years in development with assistance from HRH Prince Charles, Comic Relief, the UK card payments expert Mike Hendry – and discussions with all the majors banks, PIN terminal manufacturers, major retailers, charities, Barclaycard, Visa and Mastercard and having filed a patent on his preferred approach; David founded the Pennies Foundation. After 3 years committed to this cause, David had given his time freely, earned little income and had used-up family savings. In 2008, David had to return to full-time employment and recruited Alison Hutchinson as CEO to implement the rounding-up scheme which went live in 2011. Alison was awarded the CBE for this significant achievement in June 2016. The Pennies Foundation raises around a £1 million per year for UK Charities. David advised on setting-up similar systems in South Africa and the USA.

Founder Director – Azotic Technologies Ltd.

David identified the commercial potential of the biological nitrogen fixing concept of Professor Ted Cocking of Nottingham University. David founded with colleagues Azotic Technologies Ltd to commercially develop the capability, and as CTO he designed the first seed inoculant formulation that was validated in over 150 field trials in Europe, North America and SE Asia. The technology is based on the intracellular colonisation of any crop, movement throughout the plant and fixation of nitrogen at the site of photosynthesis in the leaves. The technology can work alone but is synergistic with conventional nitrogen fertilisers. Products are currently sold throughout North America and Europe for a range of crops that includes, maize, soybean, wheat, potato and sugar beet.

Read the book about how this transformative innovation came about in “Fixed on Nitrogen: a scientist’s short story”. 100% of royalties are donated to the Sustainable Nitrogen Foundation.

Read the publicity flyer PDF

Founder Trustee – Sustainable Nitrogen Foundation

David left Azotic Technologies Ltd in October 2018 and established with Ted Cocking, and Alan Burbidge, the Sustainable Nitrogen Foundation to undertake research on nitrogen fixing bacteria and to adapt the capability for use in small holder farmer cropping systems. The Foundation, retains a research team at Nottingham University and seeks to build on the legacy of research of Ted Cocking who sadly passed away in July 2023. The Foundation focusses on projects in Africa and currently works with partners in Rwanda and Senegal.