Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
5:01 PM 22nd July 2021

Business Responds To UK Government Innovation Strategy

Felicity Burch, CBI Director of Innovation, said:
“This strategy is an important step in ensuring innovation plays its full part in driving economic recovery and addressing the biggest challenges facing society such as decarbonisation, levelling up and health. We are pleased to see the scale of ambition and the focus on unleashing business innovation and investment.

“The commitment to increasing investment to £22bn for R&D provides and important signal to business ahead of the spending review that this Government will work with business to deliver on the ambition set out in this strategy.

“The business community looks forward to working with government to translate this strategy into reality that results in the UK being a thriving innovation economy.”
Innovation Strategy is critical to powering our recovery, says NCUB

The Innovation Strategy published today will be warmly welcomed by universities and businesses alike, says the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB).

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of NCUB said: “We are very pleased that the Innovation Strategy recognises the pivotal role businesses will play in developing the UK into a science superpower. We know that in order to meet the target of spending 2.4% of GDP on research and development (R&D) by 2027, businesses will need to invest £17.4bn more in R&D in 2027 than they did in 2017. A bold strategy is therefore unnegotiable in order to make the UK the best place in the world to invest.”

Marshall continued: “Although the Innovation Strategy sets out a clear vision and strategy focused around “innovation missions” and seven ‘strategic technologies’, it is critical that this is now backed with clear, funded policies and incentives to enable it. A strategy alone, is not enough. We are now calling on the Chancellor to deliver this clarity in the Comprehensive Spending Review, planned for later in the year. The UK’s universities and businesses will stand ready to support the Government on this.”

Marshall concluded: “Businesses tell us time and time again that the foundations of the research system, including the fundamental research conducted in the UK's world-leading universities, are one of their most important drivers for investing in R&D. As a next step, the Government must find a way to bind the R&D Roadmap published last year and the Innovation Strategy published today, together. Afterall, economic recovery rests on the Government, businesses, universities, and others working together to create the best possible environment for growth.”

The Institute of Directors has welcomed many of the proposals, which seek to encourage private investment in R&D, develop the skills of the future and adapt the regulatory framework to new technologies.

The IoD welcomes the additional public investment in R&D, which it called for in its Budget submission, and calls on Government to ensure it is fairly distributed across the UK to allow under-invested regions their fair share.

The IoD has previously called for the expansion of the British Business Bank, and therefore supports its £200m Life Sciences Investment Programme.

While we wait for the new National Science and Technology Council to define ‘innovation missions’ in the priority technologies, the Government should move quickly to reform the visa regime in support of innovators and entrepreneurs.

The list of priority technologies should be expanded to include space technologies, a significant omission given the UK’s burgeoning space industry and international reputation.

There is also an urgent need for innovators to be up-skilled in business skills in order to ensure that commercial success remains at the forefront of the strategy’s objectives. Director training programmes, like the Chartered Director qualification, should be viewed as a central component of developing the right sort of human capital.

Commenting on the Strategy, Dr Roger Barker, the Policy Director at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The UK has a world class reputation for science and research. However, historically we have been less successful in commercially exploiting our intellectual capital. If the UK is to succeed in the post-Brexit business environment, this needs to change.

“The Government has a crucial role to play in building an ‘innovation ecosystem’ in which talented individuals and dynamic companies can develop and flourish, whilst ensuring that the UK reaps the full economic benefit from its innovation culture.

“We are, however, concerned that many of the details of this strategy have yet to be fleshed out. It is still not clear what commercial outcomes we are seeking to achieve for each of the priority technologies that have been identified. As a result, today’s announcement has the feel of a series of ad hoc initiatives rather than a fully coordinated innovation strategy for UK plc.”