Top highlights from the new UK innovation strategy

Top highlights from the new UK innovation strategy

This month, the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy launched its new Innovation Strategy.

As the UK navigates its way through several significant hurdles across 2021, including our parting from the EU and the disruptions brought about by COVID-19, the UK Innovation Strategy has come at an important time. Having already established a presence on the world innovation stage, the government’s stance in the strategy outlines new plans to build on the strong foundations we already have; to create a more robust and agile economy for the future. 

The new document follows closely behind the ‘Build Back Better’ Strategy that was released in March this year which highlighted plans to improve infrastructure, skills development and innovation support. The Innovation strategy builds on this, outlining how the Innovation agency – Innovate UK, will play a key role in transforming the R&D landscape.

The strategy also coincides with the ‘Global Britain’ Strategy, which will also aid innovation across the UK through initiatives like the new immigration system that’s based on individual merit, as well as securing trade deals that allow us to share our innovations more freely around the world.

Below, we’ll look at the highlights of the 2021 UK Innovation Strategy.

What is the purpose of the new UK Innovation Strategy?

The disruptions caused by the global pandemic have been labelled by the government as the largest economic disruption since World War II. The new strategy aims to tackle this by supercharging economic growth to counter the UK’s economic losses. This will be carried out through the bold pursuit of science, innovation, tech, and collective entrepreneurship.

The ambition is to generate disruptive inventions, the most tech-centric industry and government in the world, encourage more tech unicorns, and inspire a nation of firms and people to aspire towards innovative projects without barriers.

As such, the strategy by outlines an innovation roadmap for how the UK public and private sectors can work more closely together, as well as defining what investments in terms of both finances and resources can be expected to be invested by the government.

How will the growth outlined in the UK Innovation Strategy be facilitated?

The new UK Innovation Strategy is centred around four pillars that make up the overarching objectives. These can be broken down into the following:

Pillar 1 - Unleashing Business

The government aim to make it easier for businesses who want to innovate by putting in place further resources that will fund R&D activity. This will include:

  • Increasing the annual public investment on R&D to £22 billion.
  • Investing £200 million through the British Bank’s Life Sciences investment programme that targets the growth0stage funding gap.
  • An online finance and innovation hub between Innovate UK and the British Business Bank, helping to reduce complexity of the process for innovative companies.

Pillar 2 – People

Another major part of the UK Innovation Strategy is to make the UK a more attractive place for innovative talent. This will be done by:

  • New high potential individual visa routes that make it easier for European and international talent to re-locate to the UK. In addition, the government will also be looking at creating a more attractive innovator route that will help UK businesses to better attract and retain highly skilled and globally mobile workers.
  • A new Help to Growth Scheme, offering two programmes to small UK business that include business mentor support, as well as a 12-week curriculum covering financial management, strategies for growth and innovation, and approaches to digital adoption. 

Pillar 3 – Institutions and Places

There will be an increased focus on UK research, development, and innovation institutions to ensure that they are best equipped to meet the needs of businesses across the UK. This will involve:

  • An independent review across the landscape of UK organisations, undertaking all forms of research, development, and innovation.
  • The allocation of £127 million through the Strength in Places Fund to develop R&D capacity and support local growth across the UK.
  • The investment of £25 million of funding in the Connecting Capability Fund to help drive economic growth through university-business innovation.

Pillar 4 – Mission and Technologies

 The fourth Pillar of the UK innovation Strategy revolves around stimulating innovation in the UK that can help to tackle the future challenges faced by the world. 

To do this, the following will take place:

  • Establish an Innovation Missions Programme to tackle some of the most significant issues confronting the UK and the world in the coming years.
  • Identify the key seven technology families that will transform our economy in the future.
  • Launch new Prosperity Partnerships to establish business-led research projects to develop transformational new technologies, with £59 million of industry, university, and government investment.

Developing new talent for the future of R&D

Alongside the UK Innovation Strategy released in July, the R&D People and Culture Strategy further outlines the UK’s plan and government’s commitment to further developing and retaining talent. The strategy revolves around 3 main objectives, relating to people, culture and talent. These include:

People – As we approach new cultural norms for what it looks like to work in the 21st century R&D sector, the strategy aims to clearly re-define the essential R&D roles that make the industry a success and ensure the R&D sector has the capability and capacity it needs through stringent education programmes, resources and legislature.

Culture - Co-creating a vision for a transformed culture within this sector, whereby people from a diverse range of backgrounds, with different ways of thinking, can thrive and do their best work. Part of this objective is to tackle the stigmas associated with the industry and enforce a stricter policy of fair treatment and inclusion.

Talent – As part of the new Innovation push, there are plans to renew the UK’s position as a global leader in R&D. Focus will be on attracting, retaining and developing talented people, as well as making sure careers in UK R&D are attractive to talented individuals and teams both domestically and internationally.

Careers in R&D

As the new UK Innovation Strategy has highlighted, there has never been a more opportunistic time to join the R&D sector. Leonid's passionate team of Innovation Incentive recruitment specialists are experienced in working with candidates who are looking to transition into R&D consulting. With our combined experience in the industry and trusted connections, we're one of the only specialists in this sector geared up to match the best talent with reputable R&D consulting businesses across Europe.

Whether you’re seeking out an R&D tax consultant to join your team, or you’re looking to make the move into the R&D industry as a career, we're here to talk.

Want to find out more? Please do reach out to us for an initial chat.