It seems a long time since this country led the industrialised world in innovation. Over a million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1997, and the great British manufacturing tradition appears to be sliding gently into history.
It is the UK’s sustained lack of support for innovators that has undoubtedly contributed to this decline. Over the past few decades, we have led the world in a number of technologies — from nuclear fusion to genetics — only to see a lack of investment and support drive experts abroad, leaving other countries, notably the US, to reap the benefit.
If the UK is to take its rightful place as a leader in the world’s manufacturing economies, there must be an evolution from the typical ‘nickel and dime’ approach to technology investment and manufacturing innovation — from initial concept to factory floor. We need a structured, coherent investment culture that maximises new innovations to deliver quantifiable, consistent business value. T
he change must come from the government, which needs to implement a set of fiscal policies to safeguard UK intellectual property and provide a platform for nurturing the innovation constantly being achieved in our universities.
By encouraging both industry and venture capitalists to invest in new technology at a very early stage — like the US — a far higher proportion of potentially business transforming concepts will actually reach the wider world and deliver critical competitive advantage to UK organisations.