UK committed to leading global innovation

22 July 2021 | Muriel Cozier

The UK Government announces several initiatives as it continues its focus on putting the UK at the forefront of global innovation.

The Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has unveiled an Innovation Strategy which sets out a long-term plan to boost private sector investment across the UK.

The Government says that its Strategy takes lessons learned from the pandemic, and applies them to find solutions to fundamental challenges facing the UK, including the relative decline in business R&D investment and the skills gaps.  To achieve its aims, the Government has said that it will set ‘clear direction, urgency and pace on the issues confronting the UK that we need to tackle with the private sector in the coming years.’ These issues will be determined by the new National Science and Technology Council.

The Government is also outlining seven strategic technologies to prioritise and build on including clean technologies, robotics, genomics and artificial intelligence. The Government will work with a range of bodies, including universities, charities and innovation institutes. Innovate UK and UKRI have been asked to put the Strategy into operation.

To further boost innovation, the Government has also launched a consultation looking at ways to remove red tape which no longer meets the UK’s needs. This will include regulations that the UK inherited as a former European Union Member. This consultation is an initial response to a report by the independent Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR), commissioned by the Prime Minister.  

One of the TIGRR proposals is to move away from the EU’s Precautionary Principle and adopt a ‘Proportionality Principle.’ This would mean regulation is reset to focus on outcomes, not processes and be proportionate to the issues and impacts on business and people, the Government said.

In the meantime the Government has launched a £375 million scheme to drive investment in the UK’s most ‘high growth, innovative and R&D intensive firms.’  The Future Fund: Breakthrough will co-invest with private investors to help scale-up innovations across industries including life sciences and clean technology.

The Government has said that the funding will be committed to ‘fast-growing firms’ looking to raise at least £30 million of investment. To be eligible, businesses must have commitments of 70% of an investment round from private investors with a track record financing innovative companies.

In addition, the UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has said that he is to host a Treasury Connect Tech Conference in London, during September, to bring together CEOs and senior leaders of the UK’s biggest tech firms and investors.

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