The 2014 report, titled ‘Innovation, Research and Growth’, discussed the government’s need to continue to address barriers to innovation and highlighted the essential role of the UK’s Catapult Centres.
The report said that the current network of seven Catapult Centres is critical for providing companies to access to specialist capabilities and equipment, which is often unavailable to developing businesses, and support the early stages of product and process development.
It especially highlighted the achievements of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and cited the assistance The Centre for Process Innovation provided Durham University spin-out Applied Graphene Materials (AGM).
Their support not only helped AGM to scale up their manufacturing process of graphene platelets to one tonne per year but was credited by the report for AGM’s ability to float their company on the AIM in November 2013.
Nigel Perry, CEO of CPI said: “This report clearly illustrates the foundations that have been established to help businesses overcome key challenges if they are to innovate successfully.
“CPI was founded for just this reason: to help businesses to advance the evolution of innovative new products, technology and services. As a part of the Catapult, we have continued to establish innovation supply chains and provide commercially viable solutions for businesses, utilising the very best skills, expertise and relationships to deliver tangible results for the country as a whole.
“The government’s clear commitment to support innovation is not only extremely encouraging but vitally important for the UK.”
The 2013 spending review specifically emphasised support for business-led innovation as a priority for additional investment, in order to drive growth. Not only is the growth of innovative businesses twice as fast as non-innovators, they are also less likely to fail. In addition to which, government support for such innovative companies further reduces their likelihood of failure; an effect the report states may introduce a new dimension to government policy.
Technology development and collaborative partnerships are also high on the agenda as the government invests £600 million in ‘Eight Great’ emerging technologies, in areas where the UK already possess the expertise and business capability for product development, in order to further accelerate the commercialisation of cutting edge research.
Willets explained that the UK must increase international connectivity to develop research and innovation collaboration frameworks, which will build on an already solid foundation of overseas investment and enable UK business to export.
He concluded that “the time was right to reflect on what the UK’s innovation system should look like” in order to remain a world leader in innovation and build upon the economic recovery, and that the report should be viewed as the beginning to a fresh, long-term strategy in science and innovation to be released later in the year.