Engineering group slams grants system

`Too little to too many,’ Lords are told

By David Fowler

Government attempts at encouraging innovation are failing, the Engineering Employers’ Federation will tell the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology next week.

`We see no real evidence that schemes used to support innovation have been effective,’ said EEF director general Graham Mackenzie. He added that the EEF could not yet see any real impact from Technology Foresight.

Mackenzie is expected to call for tax incentives, such as 150% tax allowances, to encourage R&D spending.

Last week the Engineering Council told the same committee that the trickle-down policy of awarding Government grants stifles industrial innovation.

Giving evidence of behalf of the council, Brian Kent told the committee that a grant system which gives a large number of organisations a little funding is not the best way of developing new ideas.

`Government funding for innovation is a blunt instrument which can be refined to be much more effective,’ said Kent. He argued that reforms could increase the idea-to-product conversion rate without increasing the overall funding budget.

Greater focus on the supply chain is the most important factor for small companies. `Funding large projects are more important than everyone being given a small sum of money,’ said Kent.

Final evidence is due to be heard by the committee next week and a report on the innovation exploitation barrier published by April.