Making the UK a global innovation hub
The Big Innovation Centre - a new initiative working across government, public and private sectors and higher education institutions to make the UK a global innovation hub – claims that without urgent co-ordinated action across government, business and finance, the UK faces a decade lost to stagnation. The organisation believes that the government must act now to adopt a strategy of collaborative, entrepreneurial investment in those areas likely to bring the greatest dividends in growth and jobs.
The report, entitled ‘The Next Wave of Innovation: Five areas that could pull Britain clear of recession’, argues that without major change the country faces stagnating living standards, mounting deprivation and a growing structural trade deficit. It goes on to say that the government must work alongside business and finance to invest in the UK’s ability to take advantage of the enormous opportunities provided by emerging technologies, chiefly the digital and low-carbon economy, health science and healthcare, cyber security and virtual reality. These are today’s equivalents of the steam engine, electricity or the internet – the so-called ‘general purpose technologies’ (GPTs) that change the world and drive growth and job creation.
Andrew Sissons, researcher at the Big Innovation Centre and author of the report, comments: “The economic headlines may be getting worse day-by-day, but Britain has some real opportunities to build on its biggest strengths. However, unless the government and business community can get to grips with the issues facing these parts of the economy, there is a real danger that we will miss out.
The reports states that the UK must develop a fully functioning innovation and investment ecosystem over the next 15 years to seize the opportunity of exploiting this new wave of useful knowledge, and that periods of economic stress are not naturally associated with booms in innovative activity.
It also notes that the task now is to create a network of institutions, processes and methodologies that will spur both the magic of innovation and the tough task of its development and commercialisation; adding that the private sector cannot shoulder the unknowable risks associated with the wholesale rebasing of the UK economy, nor develop the appropriate architecture and networks alone. This requires the ongoing engagement of an enterprising state, harnessing the creative ability of both the private and public sector through open innovation. Britain needs to own this agenda and think big, the report concludes.