IoD welcomes Innovation Strategy but calls for clear commercial outcomes

Responding to the UK Government’s publication of its new UK Innovation Strategy today, 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.”