This strategy sets out the Government’s approach to boosting business investment in innovation and ensuring UK success in the global economy. Universities and research, entrepreneurship and risk taking, greater connections between people and organisations, and a more open environment will all be at the heart of our approach.
The UK has the potential to be a world leader in innovation. The strength of UK universities and the wider knowledge base is a national asset. Our knowledge base is the most productive in the G8, with a depth and breadth of expertise across over 400 areas of distinctive research strength. The UK produces 14% of the most highly cited papers and our Higher Education Institutions generate over £3 billion in external income each year. The Government is committed to invest in maintaining and strengthening the research base, and to continue to fund a balance of blue skies and applied research projects.
But the challenges we face in innovation are as big as those elsewhere. Some of them are long-standing, such as ensuring we make the most of the UK’s inventions and discoveries, while others are newer. Other countries are spending more on research and working to develop clusters of knowledge and innovation hotspots. The costs of cutting-edge research and the latest high-tech processes are greater than ever before, and are often too large for any one company. There is more competition for European funds. We have always needed to do better in technician-level skills, but have recently slipped down the OECD league for higher-level skills too.
To succeed in the global innovation economy, the UK must strengthen its ability to accelerate the commercialisation of emerging technologies, and to capture the value chains linked to these. The private sector is always going to be central to innovation. But Government can play a key role in ensuring entrepreneurs, financiers and innovators have the best possible environment in which to operate, through:
• Funding blue skies research as well as new discoveries and inventions;
• Improving the interface between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Business; and
• Delivering a better environment for commercialising research.
Underpinning the BIS Innovation Strategy is an economic analysis that sets out the conceptual and empirical thinking behind the Strategy. It rests on three bodies of work and evidence: recent results from innovation economics, recent policy-related studies, and new innovation data. Both theory and evidence show that innovation is the central source of economic growth. But innovation is changing its scope and forms: across borders, across institutions, and in terms of its methods and processes. It is necessary to look at innovation as a system, in which different actors (universities, infrastructures, companies, and the public sector) collaborate directly and indirectly. Four primary policy challenges are identified: the need to facilitate knowledge flows, the need to maintain a high-grade knowledge infrastructure, the need to support business investment in conditions of uncertainty, and the need to build an innovating public sector.
View the Economics paper: innovation and research strategy for growth (PDF, 2.4 Mb) (45).