In April the Government announced it will increase the funding for research and development by £4.7 billion over the next 4 years (Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund). This is aimed at strengthening the UK economy and creating highly paid sustainable employment. The following sectors will be targeted;
- Healthy ageing, prospering from the energy revolution
- Transforming construction
- Transforming food production
- Next generation services
- Audiences of the future
- Quantum technology
- Robotics and artificial intelligence in extreme environments
- Accelerating innovative healthcare and medicines
- Faraday Battery Challenge: clean and flexible energy
- Driverless vehicles
- Manufacturing and materials of the future
- Satellites and space technology
It is worth considering the difference between invention, where the UK has traditionally excelled, namely in finding technical solutions to problems, in discoveries, and fundamental understanding of science. However, this is different from innovation and economic gain, namely the successful commercialisation of technology. It is seldom the case that innovation fails due to the status of the technology alone, it is more often a result of poor marketing, lack of investment in scale-up, uncompetitive pricing, not understanding the market requirements, the reaction of competitors etc.
If Innovate-UK wishes to see a return on the public funds they will be responsible for investing in the UK science base, then they would be wise to consider the business development and marketing required to be global market leaders and not solely the research and development challenges to be overcome.