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CDP founder and Partner, Mike Cane, shares his highlights from the Innovate 2016 conference.

I recently attended Innovate 2016 in Manchester, an event that gathered together more than 2,500 of the UK’s leading innovators for two days of debate, networking and investment showcases. It was hosted by Innovate UK, the Government body that promotes business-led innovation in the UK. 

In his keynote address, Greg Clark, Minister for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy highlighted that recent analysis had shown that ‘firms that invest in innovation enjoyed higher added value from their products, higher productivity and more export success.’ He added that the UK boasts four of the world’s top ten universities, the largest amount of inward R&D investment of any country and second place in global innovation rankings.

Mr Clark announced that innovation will play a key role in the new ‘Industrial Strategy’, a plan to help ‘UK PLC’ compete globally, post-Brexit.

He was keen to stress how it will support all regions of the UK and local businesses as well as leading companies, commenting “one of the major strategic challenges facing UK business is not only to improve the performance of the UK’s manufacturing sector that is already world class, but to bring all companies up to that standard, thereby addressing current low levels of productivity.”
He also announced the publication of the inaugural ‘UK Science and Innovation Audit’ — a collaborative project mapping the specific strengths of the regions across the UK. The aim is to identify and exploit innovation hot spots to increase international collaboration and inward investment. We’ll be interested to see how prominently Cambridge features in this.

Mr Clark’s department is also working to increase the effectiveness of the funding it provides for Research and Development. He revealed the creation of a new strategic body called UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to oversee the nine existing funding bodies that support research-led and business-led innovation. While the majority of this funding goes into scientific research, the aim of the new body is to create an overarching strategy to focus investment to solve the most important global challenges where maximum value can be gained. UKRI will also become an advocate for innovation in wider government affairs.

Since the conference, Prime Minister Theresa May has given us further clues to the proposed new Industrial Strategy in a speech at the recent CBI annual conference. In particular she announced a series of measures to encourage industry to translate scientific research into successful innovation through a package of direct funding, targeted technical support and tax incentives.

At CDP, we are keeping a close eye on these opportunities to ensure that our clients can access all the resources available to help them meet their innovation goals.

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