Innovate 2015 puts focus on new technology and government science budget

News editor

The UK’s showcase event to attract overseas interest in innovation and new technology coincides with a report from a parliamentary committee calling for a commitment to increase science funding

Today marks the start of Innovate 2015, which is described as the UK’s largest multi-sector innovation event where some of the most cutting edge companies get to meet international partners in order to do business. Organised by Innovate UK and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the two-day event has been designed to bring the research base, business, UK and international investors, international buyers from overseas markets and government organisations under one roof to help fund and support innovative ideas from over 3,000 of Britain’s high-growth, high-potential businesses.

Over the course of Innovate 2015, attendees will have access to a multi-sector technology showcase with global reach; networking opportunities including 1:1 meetings with international investors, buyers and experts; and a support zone for businesses looking for support in R&D, export and finance.

Exhibiting at this year’s event is IT IS 3D, was one of 100 companies to be selected to showcase its innovation in the form of a new metal 3D printing technology, which is under development and which it plans to launch in 2016. IT IS 3D says it plans to launch 3D metal printing with machine prices starting at under £50,000, bringing metal printing to significant numbers of companies around the world for prototyping, special purpose parts and low volume production.

Speaking at the event this morning, business secretary Sajid Javid announced a raft of measures designed in part to build on the government’s commitment of almost £7bn in science capital up to 2021.

These measures, which are expected to help make Britain the best place in Europe to innovate, include a call for local organisations to lead regional Science and Innovation Audits, and a Smart Specialisation hub that will bring together businesses, universities, investors and the Catapults to share best practice in innovation and help access national and international investment.

In a statement he said: “The UK is embracing new technologies and leading the world in innovation, but we must not be complacent and must look to the long term future of Research & Development to support our jobs and industries.

“As a One Nation Government we want every region of the UK to maximise opportunity for its local people through its innovation strengths, and the new Science and Innovation Audits will ensure that public investment is doing just that. By taking stock of our assets and supporting best practice and expertise, we will propel the UK to the forefront of the global innovation race.”

Javid’s comments follows a report from the cross-party Science & Technology Committee, which today called for ‘a clear roadmap to increase science funding in the Spending Review’ or put competitiveness, productivity and jobs at risk by falling further behind competitors in research and development (R&D) investment.

Nicola Blackwood MP, committee chair said: “Spending on science and innovation is not a state subsidy, it is a strategic investment that creates jobs, increases productivity and attracts inward investment.

“Committing the UK to a 3% GDP target for science spending would send a crucial signal about the long term stability and sustainability of our science and innovation ecosystem, supercharging private sector R&D investment from industry, charities and overseas investors alike.”

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said: “Despite the support that the government has shown to science when faced with difficult choices about Britain’s public finances the fact remains that UK investment in research and innovation has been failing to keep pace with other leading nations.

“The UK must not jeopardise its position as a world leader in science and the associated prospects for long-term prosperity in the name of short-term savings. The government is committed to making the UK the best place in the world for science and business, world class research and innovation – in order to achieve this, government needs to increase investment in R&D over the next five years from 0.49% of GDP to at least matching the OECD average of 0.67% of GDP by 2020.”

Innovate 2015 – part of Export Week and the GREAT campaign – takes place between Nov 9-10 at Old Billingsgate Market, London.