Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Yes, I'm still tapping away...
The Biotree company they worked for was a producer of biotech equipment. It had developed several of the nanotechnology based products which had created a renaissance for British industry. The most famous was the Aport, which could be used within a bloodstream to manage the walls of veins and arteries. It had revolutionized healthcare since its originally controversial introduction and been developed into a range of products which could manage blood flow, cholesterol build-up and some aspects of cleansing of contaminated organs. The Aport ran as a series of nanobots, which were inserted into a person’s blood stream via the same type of cartridges that were used to manage general heath.
The company had made its fortune from both the devices and the complex software that was required to make them run successfully and without error.
London was still the global headquarters for the company, with other administrative locations in most major countries. The tentacles from the company spread wide and the product base was routinely customised to markets.
The huge secretive manufacturing plants for BioTree’s core nanotechnology were based in several locations around the world. Nevada, USA; Toulouse, France and Melbourne, Australia.
Research and Development had been moved to Bodo in Norway as a strategically safe location. Just within the Arctic Circle, it still had good infrastructural connections including fast land transit, extensive seaborne links and the small matter of a major NATO airbase nestled within the town. The origins as a strategic base went back to annual shows of strength known as the Cold Response, which still occurred under the less obvious title of CORE.
It had other advantages. A local population with their own language, whilst also possessing perfectly good English language skills for handling the incoming scientists. A university base, which had been developed extensively as part of the run-up to the creation of the research faculty.
The location also had an interest appeal for the people stationed there, who were attracted by leading edge research, the best facilities, no practical budgetary limitations and a world class lifestyle during their term. Many tried a six-month spell and then remained for much longer.
Added to this, the Norwegian government had been particularly understanding since the changes in global energy policy as they had needed to re-provision from the decline in North Sea oil and natural gas. They had granted the area a special status as a world economic development zone and it had boosted the relative ranking of the still sparsely populated Norway to a top fifteen economy in terms of its economic freedom.
The subtext was the immense security that surrounded the environment and the commitment of those employed to maintain the secure nature of their work. The Bodo environment was also small enough to mean that unusual activity would be quickly spotted and with the added incentives of the kriminalitetsforebygging (KRÅD) - the criminal intelligence organisation providing added rewards for useful intelligence.
In its heyday Biotree was simply a money machine as the demand was pretty much world-wide and the patents and manufacturing processes had been extensively locked down during the prototyping cycle.
Therefore the employees of the company were routinely subjected to heavy screening before they joined, were provided with extensive benefits and the equivalent of ‘golden handcuffs’ making it exceptionally undesirable to want to leave.
That had been the case until around year ago, when a Chinese manufacturer had started to produce the first clones. Strictly, they were not clones at all. They were a totally different way to produce the same outcome. It was evident that some very smart people had somehow reversed engineered the ‘bots and also the operating systems and now created something extremely similar in its function, but at what worked out to be one tenth of the price.
That had tipped the market and the little nest egg of un-vested shares that Janie and Karin had received when they joined the company were now worth less than one-tenth of their original value. These changes had heralded the management changes and the new people that now walked the corridors.