Is there enough innovation in the UK?

1 min read

Last year, according to figures from the European Patent Office, patent applications grew by 3.1%, reaching a record level of more than 274,000.

While the number of UK registrations grew by 4.8%, that only accounted for 2% of the European total and suggests, at an international level, we have fallen further behind our main competitors.

While Europe – and, by association, the UK – has a role as a global hub of technology and innovation, it's crucial that industries are encouraged to foster greater competitiveness, economic strength and employment either by patenting and commercialising their work or by commercialising work done, for example, in universities.

So is the UK doing enough? Patently not. However, research from the Enterprise Research Council suggests that innovation is alive and kicking in the UK, taking place in what it describes as a 'wide arc of innovation' stretching from Cambridge through the south east Midlands and along the M4 corridor to take in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Oxfordshire took the top spot with 28% of companies carrying out R&D, followed by Cambridge and Peterborough.

Regions not always associated with innovation and the creation of new products and services surprised by coming near the top of this regional league table – Swindon, Dorset and Liverpool were all described as 'beacons of innovation'.

Innovation per se will not have much impact unless it creates products and services that drive sales and growth. So, while London and Manchester – the heart of the Chancellor's drive to create a Northern Powerhouse – languished towards the bottom of this survey, they dominated, along with other major cities, when it came to profitable innovation.

Does this kind of research have a practical application? Well, yes, as it will help everyone involved in technology and innovation to understand how we, as a nation, can better support local and regional economies.

Money remains tight, we have an emergency Budget due in July and business is crying out for further investment in infrastructure to improve the UK's broadband and energy networks.

We have to nurture and support businesses in the UK if we are to successfully unlock future economic growth and that will certainly be helped by better understanding where profitable innovation is being generated.