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Our age may have turned against experts but we urgently need to keep up the pace of finding ways to make use of technological inventions and scientific discoveries. John Thornhill believes we should learn from the history of competitions. He cites the Longitude prize of 1714, the Ansari X prize for commercial space flight, and other appeals to ingenious minds to solve both everyday and monumental problems. Several new competitions have been founded. John asks: can they help wean us off conventional R&D and the flawed process of relying on venture capital to pick winning ideas?

Innovation Prize web

May’s Brexit battle 
Robert Shrimsley writes on the explosive UK cabinet, out of which both David Davis and Boris Johnson have leapt. This may be the beginning of UK prime minister Theresa May's end or merely the end of her beginning, he says, paraphrasing Winston Churchill.

Take on the tech titans 
Economist Diane Coyle thirsts for a public sector rival to Facebook and Google, to combat abuse and improve online services. Why, she asks, could it not be modelled on the BBC?

Belt and Road troubles 
James Kynge explores the headaches facing Chinese companies involved in ambitious global infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. From Malaysia to Colombia, problems are proliferating.

Macron's popularity wilts in the heat 
Anne-Sylvaine Chassany reports from Aix-en-Provence where the French business and economics elite are sipping rose and worrying about whether their president can really deliver.

What you’ve been saying

A lesson in hypocrisy from Europe over the Syrian refugees — Letter from Marwan Bardawil:

As a nation that has suffered from such issues for so long, we cannot accept being lectured by anyone that does not carry a similar proportion of the refugee burden. While the conflict rages in Syria, many European nations are trying their best to keep the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and other neighbouring countries, so that they do not land on their shores. They express words of concern on the human tragedy of the Syrian refugees, yet their deeds and the popular mood are to deflect the problem on to poor nations such as Lebanon and Jordan. Hypocrisy at its best.

Comment by boondoggle on David Davis’s resignation poses tough challenge for Theresa May:

Davis is a serial resigner — remember when he triggered a by-election over civil liberties? Civil liberties are long past in his mind, but he has this flaky tendency to walk out on spurious matters of principle, leaving everybody scratching their heads. Does he have a grand scheme? Is this part of a plot? No. It never is with him. To put it positively, he is an individualist. To put it negatively, an entirely selfish egoist. 

Brexit will not change the process of ignoring the VAT rules — Letter from Kerys Montgomerie:

For a supply to be treated as a zero-rated export the goods have to leave the EU. As it is disclosed that the customer collects these products and sometimes delivers them straight to EU customers, there will be at least some instances where sales cannot be zero rated.

Today’s opinion

Emmanuel Macron’s shine loses some lustre under the Provence sun
Academics in Aix urge the French leader to fix his ‘president of the rich’ image

 China’s Belt and Road difficulties are proliferating across the world
Infrastructure project managers have been wrongfooted by local controversies

 We need a publicly funded rival to Facebook and Google The BBC stands as a model for how we can fight abuses and improve online services

 Prizes are a powerful spur to innovation and breakthroughs Fresh thinking advanced by competition leaves conventional research in the shade

FT Alphaville: The London School of Cryptonomics 

Free Lunch: Britain bows to the logic of Brexit
By dropping ‘cake and eat it’, Theresa May has stepped up to the plate 

Instant Insight: Theresa May’s political survival at stake after David Davis resignation
Downing Street will hope the damage caused by his departure can be contained 

FT View

The FT View: Resignations should not derail Brexit realism
The UK prime minister still needs to push towards a softer approach

The FT View: Conflict over Donald Trump’s trade tariffs escalates
EU and China should not assume politics will rein the president in

The Big Read

The Big Read: The UK’s productivity problem: the curse of the ‘accidental manager’
Many British companies could benefit from improving simple management practices, or just adopting them in the first place

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