Recently the government released a new Innovation Strategy to set out plans to further the UK’s position as a world-leader in science, research and innovation.

The Strategy aims to fulfil the needs of businesses seeking to innovate, ensuring they have access to private and public investment, while ensuring R&D institutions are supported to truly be fit to meet fast-moving business needs. 

With the government planning to increase annual public investment on R&D to a record £22bn and a detailed strategy for Levelling Up to be released later this year, it’s highly encouraging to see priority given to creating the right conditions to allow transformative technology companies to flourish. 

Our main takeaways:

To level-up through R&D, the government committed to ‘a comprehensive, place-based approach’ for unlocking potential outside of the Greater South East. At Sunderland Software City we recognise the merits of not only fuelling local innovation but in sharing our knowledge and best practice to strengthen the region’s ecosystem as a whole. Having helped 200 businesses of all sizes to undertake collaborative R&D across the region since 2015, we have a great platform to build from as we look to stimulate further partnerships and growth.

The objective to make adoption and diffusion a greater part of how government-funded agencies measure their success is also welcomed. As the Digital Catapult delivery partner in the North East and Tees Valley, we know the benefits that the adoption and diffusion of digital technology can make to businesses and organisations across all sectors. The direct confluence of digital technology and advanced manufacturing, for instance, has brought about much prosperous collaboration in the region. 

While the Strategy is largely welcomed, we are especially keen to see further detail of the proposed mechanisms through which the government seeks to deliver. Devolving power, resources and responsibility to Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships has enabled local collaboration around bottom-up priorities and unleashed regional innovation potential which is naturally invisible to the naked eye of Whitehall.  

Our Head of Innovation and Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley Lead, Naomi Hutchinson, explains more below. 

Naomi comments: “We look forward to working closely with government to ensure the ambition of the Innovation Strategy can deliver for companies on the ground. We're especially eager to see more details and clarity in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. 

“After speaking to scores of businesses during the pandemic, we understand the struggle to take the 'risk' on innovation in the short term due to ongoing economic uncertainty. We’re committed to using our experience in driving projects through our Business Challenge 2.0 framework to give companies the right support to feel confident about innovating.

“To truly level-up, government needs to understand the nuances of how innovation can be delivered in places. Together with regional universities and businesses we are ready to rise to the challenge and ensure we continue to see a positive direction of travel in the North East and Tees Valley's innovation space.”