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Innovation Strategy unveiled

Last week the UK government announced its Innovation Strategy, at the heart of which is increasing annual public investment on R&D to over £22bn.

The strategy is, however, about a lot more than ‘just’ money with plans to ensure government procurement is proactive and supportive, that it provides a route to market for innovative new products and services as well as a providing a willingness to consult more on regulations so as to ensure that the UK is as well-placed as possible to extract the best value from innovation.

The UK government is to commission the Regulatory Horizons Council to consider how best to support innovation through regulation, including looking at whether there are a set of high-level guiding principles for regulation that could be applied more broadly to any sector of innovation; as well as the introduction of new High Potential Individual and Scale-up visa routes to attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent.

The government is also to launch an independent review to assess the landscape of UK organisations undertaking all forms of research, development and innovation and wants to reduce the complexity currently faced by innovative companies by developing an online finance and innovation hub between Innovate UK and the British Business Bank within the next 12 months.

Plans are also in place to expand the IP education programme for researchers and launch International IP Services to bolster innovative companies’ and researchers’ ability to collaborate, export and invest overseas.

There are also a number of additional proposals to address the needs of business and better promote and support Industry 4.0 as well as life science research and development.

The Strategy has also identified those areas where the UK has globally competitive R&D and industrial strength including: Advanced materials and Manufacturing; AI, Digital and Advanced Computing; Bioinformatics and Genomics; Engineering Biology; Electronics, Photonics and Quantum; Energy and Environment Technologies; Robotics and Smart Machines.

Five pioneering projects will receive a share of £127 million through the Strength in Places Fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and includes projects such as the Advanced Machinery Productivity Initiative to drive innovation for the UK’s advanced machinery manufacturers and the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group, which is to receive funding in order to improve manufacturing processes in advanced ceramics.

The Innovation Strategy looks to show how the government will focus its efforts to support businesses and institutions at the cutting edge of innovation and has been generally welcomed.

For example, Dr Daniel Rathbone, CaSE Assistant Director said: "The innovation strategy shows the potential of research and innovation to super-charge the UK economy. The evidence shows one of the best ways government can give confidence to businesses to invest in research and innovation is to set out a clear timeline and plan for how it will reach its target of investing £22bn in R&D by 2024/25.”

It's certainly an important first step and there's the opportunity to set out a clear timeline with the upcoming Spending Review, which should provide a perfect opportunity for the government to set out its ,”long term plan for investment.”

It'll be interesting to see what the government says and whether it sticks to its commitments as it comes to terms with managing the £350bn debt pile accumilated in combating the pandemic.

Author
Neil Tyler

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