Autumn Statement: long-term support for innovation needed

Today’s Autumn Statement included measures to support innovation but a long term package of support is needed according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Paul Davies, IET Head of Policy said: “Innovation is important to the UK as it affords an opportunity to create new high value jobs to contribute to an improved UK economy. Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of the role Government plays in successful innovation in business.

“The extra finance announced will help the UK lead the next generation of technologies such as printable electronics, robotics, and carbon fibre composites here in the UK.

“This investment will help around 250 more UK companies get new and better products that they need to go to market faster in key manufacturing sectors like aerospace and automotive. This is expected to generate an additional £745 million to the UK economy.”

But longer term support is needed. The IET believes that the next Government will need to act in five different areas in order to achieve innovation success in the period 2015 to 2020.

1.         A stable and supportive business environment.
Businesses of all sizes and from all sectors need a framework to enable them to plan their innovation strategy for long term success.

2.         Increased innovation investment support.
Businesses require an increased level of support for investment so that ideas and concepts can be proven, solutions developed and scaled up for commercial success. The investment opportunities should be considered as a UK wide approach to include better procurement, logistics and location.

3.         Improved home grown skills developed to support innovative businesses.
The Perkins Review of Engineering Skills identified a range of recommendations for joint action between the Government, business and the wider engineering profession. Investment by government should be aligned to the needs of innovative businesses so that there is the long term goal of having UK apprentices, graduates and existing employees skilled in the required areas.

4.         Enable more SMEs to access and exploit the available resources and investment in innovation.
It is recognised that many SMEs do not have the broad awareness and specific expertise to submit applications to access the range of initiatives available in the UK. More regionalised awareness and assistance hubs in cities and localities should be provided to support local businesses that could operate within relevant communities to ensure they are accessing the correct expertise and investment opportunities.

5.         Government departments working together to support innovation.
It is important that all government departments are aligned, coordinated and contribute to an innovation strategy. This means areas such as tax incentives, procurement, intellectual property, export promotion and inward investment are all geared towards supporting business innovation across all sectors of industry.

Notes to editors:

§  Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.

§  The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.

§  The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.

§  We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.

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