Role of Government in Innovation

UK Department of Innovation

by Roy Luebke

Role of Government in InnovationDuring some recent research I came across some very interesting innovation developments occurring in England.

The British government has established innovation as a central economic focus and has created organizations to serve as catalysts or as a network connector between investment sources, education, industry and public departments to stimulate advances in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to generate long-term economic growth. The goal is to help make the connections that will make their business base stronger and their public services more effective.

In the U.K. science and innovation is a Cabinet level position and the leading department was called the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). In June, 2009 the DIUS was reorganized into the Department For Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

A DIUS white paper named, “Innovation Nation” was published in March 2008 and set out the government’s aim to make the U.K. the best place in the world to run an innovative business or public service. The interactive version of this report can be found at:

http://interactive.dius.gov.uk/innovationnation/

The DIUS has begun publishing an annual innovation report that details progress in the following areas:

  • National innovation performance
  • Research, Knowledge exchange and business innovation
  • Internal investment and international collaboration in science and innovation
  • Skills for innovation
  • Public sector demand for innovation and procurement policies
  • A series of innovation case studies

You may get this report at:

http://www.dius.gov.uk/innovation/innovation_nation/annual_innovation_report

The innovation community should be asking what role government has in supporting innovation. While I personally am an advocate of smaller government, with the complexity of society today and the globalization of economies, government could play an important role in stimulating collaboration and focusing education programs on producing higher skilled people who are prepared to enter a complex work environment. This doesn’t have to mean bigger government, but could be re-focused government. BusinessWeek discussed its view that U.S. innovation has failed to realize its promise and may be a major contributor to the current economic crisis.

As stated in their documents, the DIUS/BIS is working with partners from the commercial, public and voluntary sectors to accomplish the following:

  • Accelerate the commercial exploitation of creativity and knowledge, through innovation and research, to create wealth, grow the economy, build successful businesses and improve quality of life.
  • Improve the skills of the population throughout their working lives to create a workforce capable of sustaining economic competitiveness, and enable individuals to thrive in the global economy.
  • Build social and community cohesion through improved social justice, civic participation and economic opportunity by raising aspirations and broadening participation, progression and achievement in learning and skills.
  • Pursue global excellence in research and knowledge, promote the benefits of science in society, and deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills in line with employer demand.
  • Strengthen the capacity, quality and reputation of the Further and Higher Education systems and institutions to support national economic and social needs.
  • Encourage better use of science in Government, foster public service innovation, and support other Government objectives.

Another U.K. organization to watch is NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) which is in the process of creating an innovation index. NESTA delivers practical programs to help British innovation flourish by providing innovators with access to early stage capital and by driving forward research into innovation, with a view to influencing policy. NESTA is not only focused on the U.K. but is supporting innovation efforts throughout Europe.

To my mind, our current economic recession is an inflection point across the entire global economy. All countries are interrelated now, and will continue this trend going forward. There are flows of relationships, capital, intellectual property, supplies, workers, etc. worldwide, and it is probably a good idea to see the U.S. learn from its allies and competitors in supporting innovation efforts.

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Roy LuebkeRoy Luebke is an innovation expert focused on discovering new, customer-driven opportunity areas to help define the future of a company. He is inspired by knowledge and learning, and applying structured tools and methods at the crossroads of strategy and innovation to achieve business growth.

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