In a new report, ‘Don’t wait, innovate - Stepping up R&D, from St. Austell to St. Andrews’, the CBI shines a light on the important contribution businesses make to the success of UK research and innovation.
Showcasing the stories of businesses from Cornwall to central Scotland, ‘Don’t wait, innovate’, highlights the pioneering research and innovation firms are making throughout the UK.
But as well as highlighting these success stories, the report calls for action to grow more R&D activity across the UK’s regions and nations.
The risk of falling behind
The UK currently spends 1.7% of GDP on R&D - far below the 2.4% OECD average - and UK investment is particularly limited outside of the South East. Just three regions account for 52% of UK R&D spend (London, South East & East of England) and just five of the UK’s forty sub-regions are investing over 3% of GDP.
This tail of underperforming regions risks holding back progress in improving the UK’s national R&D performance, and with that, progress on regional competitiveness and growth.
To capture the benefits that flow from innovation-led growth and realise ambitions to lead the world in challenges like clean growth, healthy ageing and the future of mobility, the UK must take action to catalyse an R&D movement throughout the UK.
Tapping into the UK’s potential
A greater focus on accelerating R&D investment in the worst performing regions could provide a £7.3bn boost to UK R&D spend, bringing the 2.4% target for R&D spend within grasp.
The CBI is calling on the next government to take three steps to kickstart public and private investment across the country:
- Set out a roadmap for raising UK R&D activity within its first year of office – this should include measures to ramp up public funding support for Innovate UK; drive innovation through government procurement; and push innovation diffusion throughout the UK economy
- Jumpstart innovation activity across the UK with a network of new ‘Catapult Quarters’ – a ‘Catapult Quarter’ (CQ) brings together all of the services that make current clusters great in a coordinated and consistent package. A special support package will incentivise businesses to co-locate and collaborate along a specific locally relevant theme. CQs would be specific to a geographic area, centred around a Catapult and would create an internationally competitive brand for UK innovation
- Establish robust methods for measuring impact and success – this should include a new measurement tool that captures regional and sectoral breakdowns of FDI in R&D.
The CBI’s innovation team will continue to work with government and members to support the adoption of these recommendations. If you’d like to get involved further in this campaign, join one of our member Working Groups. To find out more, get in touch with Ollie Diss.