How can we make the UK a global innovation hub?

The economic indicators are far from encouraging. Service sector growth has been disappointing, while the recovery in manufacturing has stalled at best. Gangs of economists are in panicked argument in the newspapers about whether we should, or shouldn’t, cut the 50p tax rate. The only person who seems to think things are fine is the chancellor, George Osborne.

If this makes one thing clear, it’s that the UK needs a plan for growth. And this plan needs to focus on innovation in the UK. The Work Foundation and Lancaster University are launching a new collaboration – the Big Innovation Centre – a partnership of private sector companies, public sector institutions, universities and philanthropists. We’re seeking to answer the question: How can we make the UK a global innovation hub?

Many of the actions to achieve this would need to be national. There are concerns, for example, that the banks are currently bad at lending to the innovative, high growth firms who create the majority of new jobs. Banking reform is needed to address this problem. And this can only feasibly happen at a national level.

Yet the local level is also highly important. Innovation does not take place in isolation – successful innovation builds on a network of public, private and third sector organisations. This makes the role of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) crucial. If LEPs can successfully link the public, private and third sectors, identify the barriers to growth and begin to target them.

Alongside this, LEPs need to think about innovation as being about more than science and technology. Innovation at a local level, may be about incremental improvements for local SMEs which help them compete in a tough market place. LEPs should provide a voice for these firms as well. Rather than using public money in an attempt to attract innovative firms, it might be more appropriate to try and get existing firms to improve their rates of innovation.

Skills are vital for innovation, and LEPs need to play a coordinating role in bringing together public sector provision with private sector needs. Skills shortages aren’t just about graduates, but are often about the mid-level technical skills which firms need to bring new products to market. A range of local institutions, ranging from FE colleges to universities, are needed to target this.

Other local agencies must contribute as well. One of the key objectives for procurement should be to drive innovation across the economy – with a focus on the key growth areas that are likely to drive the UK economy, such as the digital economy and life sciences. Without lapsing into protectionist local purchasing, local areas need to ensure procurement helps firms introduce new things.

The economy isn’t fine. But the UK has a long history of innovation which can help make it better in the long run. We need to move the focus from the short-term squabbles about tax rates and the latest indicators to a long-term vision of an innovative economy, and how local areas can make that happen.


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12 years ago

How can we make the UK a global innovation hub?

By ensuring that;
1) the laws of confidentiality –
2) the law of contract and other business related laws are fully within the reach of
innovators and entrepreneurs.

How do you expect to attract innovators and entrepreneurs – when they cannot get access to the legal system? – unless they have large amounts of extra cash to stuff into the coffers of solicitors and barristers

First fix the legal system – then fix the financial system i.e.: high frequency trading – CDO’s – Derivatives – etc, etc.

Do you know that there is a current £300 million pounds cable project from New York to London that will give certain financial speculators one second advantage over other normal traders –

When this project is implemented – it will net the insiders over £100 million in profits – for doing what? stealing the money that innovators and entrepreneurs should have from there efforts.

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