Business-led innovation is key to UK’s sustainable economic growth
The government branch behind Knowledge Transfer Partnerships launched their new scheme on Monday, alongside the other councils within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It sets out the road the council plans to take in the next two years to support UK businesses to develop ideas and commercialise new technologies.
A big part of that is their efforts to bring together industry and academia to utilise each other’s knowledge and resources to spark innovation.
The new plan lays out five key strategic goals for Innovate UK over the next two years. These are:
- Deliver measurable economic and societal impact across the UK
- Support and invest in innovative businesses and entrepreneurs with the potential and ambition to grow
- Maximise the commercial impact of world-class knowledge developed in UK industries and its research base
- Identify, support and grow transforming and emerging industries through innovation
- Build a coherent, supportive environment incentivising R&D investment and enabling people and businesses to innovate
The plan is building on their already commendable success in spurring UK innovation. According to their launch statement, Innovate UK has succeeded in investing over £2.2 billion (US$2.8 billion) in more than 11,000 projects over the last 12 years. These have created as much as £16 billion (US$20.3 billion) in gross value added to the UK economy and added 70,000 jobs.
This investment looks set to grow as the new plan lays out a more “investment-driven approach” in order to reach the government’s ambitious goals, according to Interim Executive Chair of Innovate UK, Dr Ian Campbell.
“To achieve the Government’s Industrial Strategy commitment to increase R&D spending to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2027, our new strategy takes more of an investment-driven approach to innovation,” Campbell said at the launch.
“It focuses much more closely on creating the conditions for private investment in R&D, on creating an enabling environment by championing and assisting industry to innovate, on nurturing the sectors and technologies that will transform the UK, and on encouraging innovation in all businesses with the potential to grow and scale, right across the country.”
Their financial support for universities will be a central pillar of this approach, aiming to build the collaboration environment with industry. This is a reiteration of the point made in the government’s International Research and Innovation Strategy, released in May.
The newly launched Delivery Plan details central themes that will guide the UKRI and Innovate UK to achieve the ambitious goals set by the country-wide strategy. These are:
- Business environment – with a focus on delivering projects with social, cultural and economic impact
- Places – supporting growth across the uk
- Ideas – developing disruptive and ground-breaking projects
- People – investing in the skills and environment for innovation to thrive
- Infrastructure – ensuring access and investment in world-leading research
- International – meeting global challenges and forming international partnerships
The government strategy embraces this collaborative philosophy and aims to expand on it; labelling the UK’s universities open for business. Central to the policy is connecting researchers and entrepreneurs, supporting their development, and the translation of their ideas into commercially viable products.
“We will work with our universities, research institutes, the academic and business communities to promote and facilitate international collaboration and use their networks and influence to build new partnerships that produce excellent research and innovation,” reads the strategy paper.
The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, which is supporting new research centres and facilities via strategic partnerships between universities, businesses and charities, looks set to get more than £900 million (US$1.15 billion) as part of the plan. Expectations are this could as much as double with the contributions of private sector co-investment.
“The delivery plans announced today are the blueprints for UKRI’s ambition to deliver the future of research and innovation,” said UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport.
“They outline how we will address the major global and societal challenges of our time, catalyse collaboration and contribute to meeting the government’s ambitious 2.4 percent target.”