RAEng urges more action on innovation

A new report from the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) is urging the government to take more decisive action to foster innovation in the UK.

Entitled Investing in Innovation, the report calls for a long-term strategic framework that will encourage businesses and other organisations to invest in research and development. According to the Academy, innovation is a key driver of both economic and social value, and was responsible for half of the UK’s productivity growth between 2000 and 2008.

The report says government support is vital for UK to remain competitive on the world stage.

“There is compelling evidence that the research conducted in our universities results in an enormous range of successful applications,” said Dame Ann Dowling, president of the RAEng.

“However, innovation has a key role to play in ensuring that the potential in this world-class research base is actually converted into products and services of value to our economy and society. The rest of the world is in agreement that the capacity to innovate is the way to prosper in the 21st century. At a time of severe pressures on public finances and growing global competition, government should be investing in innovation to secure our future growth.”

Dame Ann Dowling, president of the RAEng
Dame Ann Dowling, president of the RAEng

The report claims that government funding is a critical catalyst for success, with every £1 of public investment in research and development attracting private investment of up to £1.60. Furthermore, every £1 invested by government agency Innovate UK returns an average of £6 in gross added value.

“You only have to look at the UK’s world-leading small satellite industry to see the value of public funding for innovation,” Dame Dowling continued.

“Government funding helped to establish Surrey Space Centre as a centre of excellence and enabled pre-commercialisation development for what became Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. Now part of Airbus Defence and Space, it is a £100 million a year business which has launched 47 space missions.”