New UK Innovation Strategy to Cement the Nation’s Position as a Leader in Science, Research, Innovation: Report

Updated plans to put the United Kingdom at the front of the global innovation race have been shared by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the UK Research and Innovation unit as well as other organizations and individuals.

Released on July 22, 2021, the update notes that long-term plans to enhance private sector investment across the UK have been taken into consideration as well as examining the right conditions for all businesses “to turn world-leading science into new products and services.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stated:

‘The countries that secure leadership in transformational technologies will lead the world – it’s our job to ensure the UK keeps pace with the global innovation race.’

New plans to support private sector investment in order to put the UK at the front of the global innovation race have been published as part of the new Innovation Strategy that was introduced by by Kwarteng on July 22.

The Innovation Strategy is the UK Government’s long-term vision “to put innovation at the heart of building back better, as a key pillar in our Plan for Growth.” It aims “to boost private sector investment in R&D across the whole of the UK, and create the right conditions for all businesses to innovate so they have the confidence to do so.”

As stated in a release:

“The UK is committed to increasing annual public investment on R&D to a record £22 billion, but the private sector also plays a key role in boosting spending on R&D, which is an essential part of our country’s future prosperity and key to achieving key domestic priorities, from tackling climate change and boosting productivity, to levelling up opportunities across the UK and supporting businesses out of the pandemic.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us that major challenges may be addressed by “ambitious investment in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and has shown the public what British innovators can deliver when given ambitious support, freedom, and risk tolerance,” the release noted.

The strategy takes “lessons learned from the pandemic, including from the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce – where the public and private sectors successfully worked alongside each other – and applies them find solutions to fundamental challenges facing the UK – including the relative decline in business R&D investment, skills gaps and the need for pro-enterprise regulatory environment to spur innovation,” the announcement stated.

As noted in the update, the UK government will be specifying “innovation missions” to set clear direction, “urgency” and “pace” on the issues currently confronting the country that they want to deal with the private sector in the coming years. These will be “determined by the new National Science and Technology Council and supported by the Office for Science and Technology Strategy,” the update confirmed.

Additionally, the nation’s government is outlining 7 strategic technologies “to prioritize and build on our existing R&D strengths, including clean technologies, robotics, genomics and AI, where the UK has globally competitive advantage and industrial strength.”

The strategy outlines “how the government will focus its efforts to support businesses and institutions at the cutting edge of innovation,” setting out their plans in key areas:

  • Unleashing Business – “fueling businesses who want to innovate by ensuring effective access to private and public investment”
  • People – “creating the most exciting place in the world for talented innovators
  • Institutions and Places” – “ensuring R&D institutions serve the needs of businesses and promoting innovation in places across the UK”
  • Missions and Technologies – “stimulating innovation in technology and missions that will provide the UK with a strategic advantage and will be critical to tackling some of our greatest challenges”

Through the Innovation Strategy the government will:

  • “Increase annual public investment on R&D “to a record £22 billion”
  • “Ensure government procurement is proactive and supportive, providing a route to market for innovative new products and services”
  • “Consult on how regulation can ensure that the UK is well-placed to extract the best value from innovation”
  • “Commission the Regulatory Horizons Council to consider how best to support innovation through regulation, including looking whether there are a set of high-level guiding principles for regulation that may apply broadly to any sector of innovation”
  • “Introduce new High Potential Individual and Scale-up visa routes, and revitalize the Innovator route to attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent”
  • “Undertake an independent review to assess landscape of UK organizations undertaking all forms of research, development and innovation”
  • “Reduce complexity for innovative companies by developing an online finance and innovation hub between Innovate UK and the British Business Bank within the next 12 months”
  • “Expand IP education program for researchers and launch International IP Services to bolster innovative companies’ and researchers’ ability to confidently collaborate, export and invest overseas”
  • “Publish of a new action plan on ‘Standards for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, promoting standards that enable innovation to flourish”
  • “Invest £200 million through the British Business Bank’s Life Sciences Investment Program to target the growth-stage funding gap faced by UK life science companies”
  • “Support 30,000 senior managers of small and medium sized businesses through Help to Grow: Management to boost their business’s performance, resilience, and long-term growth
    (The Strategy identifies areas where the UK has “globally competitive R&D and industrial strength and that will transform our economy in the future – 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.”)

As stated in the release:

“Our partners in the innovation system will be critical to delivering our ambitions, and the Business Secretary has asked Innovate UK and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to operationalize this Strategy in order to achieve our shared objectives.”

The UK government has reportedly committed to working with universities and various other research organizations, charities, Catapults, public sector research establishments and research and innovation institutes “who will all play a key role in implementation of the Strategy.”

As noted in the announcement:

“As part of efforts to ensure innovative business across the UK can capitalize on these strengths, 5 pioneering projects will receive a share of £127 million through the Strength in Places Fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI):”

For more details on this update, check here.

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