Innovation Nation

The UK Department for Innovation, University and Skills (DIUS) has released a Science and Innovation White Paper which calls on the government to increase spending to create demand for new innovative products and services.

The paper, entitled ‘Innovation Nation’, sets out how the government can establish the UK as a global leader in innovation in business and in the public sector.

Among its suggestions is a commitment from each government department to publish a procurement plan which will detail how they intend to place innovation at the core of their procurement practices, with the aim of encouraging procurement from early-stage businesses.

Other recommendations include introducing five new ‘innovation platforms’, which would co-ordinate government support and funding for innovation-led companies.

The paper also proposes setting an initiative whereby at least 1,000 so-called ‘innovation vouchers’ would be issued every year by 2011 to help support and fund small and medium-sized businesses to work with educational institutions.

NESTA, the National Lottery endowment fund, will also play a role in three of the paper’s recommendations. It will establish a Public Services Innovation Laboratory which will develop radical innovation for public service”; it will help create an Innovation Index to meausre the UK’s performance as an ‘Innovation Nation’;; and it will help to establish an Innovation Research Centre.

NESTA’s CEO, Jonathan Kestenbaum, said: “With the UK behind on productivity and increasing pressure being put on our public services, innovation has never been so important. Put simply, we have to do things differently to prosper. The government has a critical role to play in supporting not stifling this innovation and, done right, the recommendations in this White Paper will go a good way to achieve that.”