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UK Innovation Strategy: Leading the future by creating it

Innovation is central to the largest challenges the world faces, from climate change and the ageing society to global pandemics. After a challenging 18 months, we’re now starting to see the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the ‘new normal’ beginning to be established. The UK Government has adapted to the challenges presented during this time, including focusing on the importance of building on the UK’s innovative foundations. In March 2021, the Government published their “Build Back Better: our plan for growth” strategy which focuses on infrastructure, skills and innovation as the foundation of recovery and growth across the economy. To build on this, The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy recently published the UK’s new Innovation Strategy, which sets out a long-term plan to cement the UK’s position as a world-leader in science, research and innovation.

The UK Innovation Strategy set’s out the Government’s vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035. To achieve this, the strategy’s key actions have been broken down into four pillars:

Pillar 1: Unleashing Business – Fuel businesses that want to innovate by ensuring effective access to private and public investment.

Pillar 2: People – Make the UK the most exciting place for innovative talent.

Pillar 3: Institutions & Places – Ensure research, development and innovation institutions serve the needs of businesses and places across the UK.

Pillar 4: Missions & Technologies – Stimulate innovation to tackle major challenges faced by the UK and the world and drive capability in key technologies.

The four pillars focus on key areas where the UK has its core strengths and those that will transform the economy in the future, such as 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.

The Innovation Strategy also outlines other key actions that will be taken by the Government, including:

  • Increase annual public investment in 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 at 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 revitalise the Innovator route to attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent.
  • Undertake an independent review to assess the landscape of UK organisations 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 programme for researchers and launch International IP Services to bolster innovative companies’ and researchers’ ability to confidently collaborate, export and invest overseas.
  • Publish 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 Programme 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.

In addition to the above actions, the Government will also fund and support five pioneering projects that will receive a share of £127 million through the Strength in Places Fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

• The North of England will receive £22.6 million to support the Advanced Machinery & Productivity Initiative to drive innovation for the UK’s advanced machinery manufacturers.

• In the Midlands, £18.3 million is being awarded to the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group to improve manufacturing processes in advanced ceramics.

To find out more about the UK’s Innovation Strategy: Leading the future by creating it, read the full document here.

At Exemplas, we are experts in providing SMEs with the tools and advice they need to excel and grow as a business. Through our delivery of Innovate UK EDGE in the East of England, we provide bespoke mentoring, coaching and advisory support to help businesses scale and grow through innovation. 

Find out more about the work we do in the public sector to support SMEs.