New plans to put UK at front of global innovation race
New plans to boost private sector investment to put the UK at the front of the global innovation race have been set in a new Innovation Strategy launched by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today.
Today’s Innovation Strategy is the 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.
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 pandemic has shown us that major challenges can be resolved 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 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.
To achieve this aim, the government will specify ‘innovation missions’ to set clear direction, urgency and pace on the issues confronting the UK that we want to tackle 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 government is also outlining 7 strategic technologies to prioritise 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 plans in four areas:
- Unleashing Business – fuelling 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
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK can look back on a proud history of changing the world through innovation. From the industrial revolution to the vaccine development of the past year, the impact on our everyday lives is undeniable. That spirit of discovery is still alive in this country today, but we have not always turned our genius for innovation into jobs and companies here in Britain.
“The countries that secure leadership in such transformational technologies will lead the world, enjoying unrivalled growth, security and prosperity for decades to come – and it’s our job to ensure the UK keeps pace with the global innovation race. Through this long-term plan, we want to rekindle our country’s flame of innovation and discovery, helping businesses to seize the vast opportunities that innovation can bring.
“If we get this right, we can build the foundations for the new industries of tomorrow, and ensure British firms are at the front of the pack to turn world-leading science into new products and services that are successful in international markets.”