31 May 2013

Action needed to support UK innovation

Bridging the Valley of Death Report

A report by a House of Commons Select Committee has warned Government that its lack of support for technological innovation in the UK is hindering academic researchers and the efforts of entrepreneurs.

With the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) scheduled for next month, a report by the Science and Technology Commons Select Committee has warned Government that it does not have a coherent strategy to support the commercialisation of technological innovation in the UK.

The Committee also believes Government is failing to secure the full economic benefits of the UK’s world-class science base.

The report, called Bridging the valley of death: improving the commercialisation of research, was published in March 2013 and is being debated at an event hosted by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) in Chester on 14 June 2013.

The event will include presentations from two members of the Select Committee who helped to draft the report – Andrew Miller, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston and Stephen Mosley, MP for Chester.

Select Committee chair, Andrew Miller MP, said: “The UK’s university and science sector is a global success, but the challenge for Government is how that world class academic research can be translated into commercial activity.

“Whilst we are encouraged by the work of the Technology Strategy Board and the Catapults, British entrepreneurs are being badly let down by a lack of access to financial support and a system that often forces them to sell out to private equity investors or larger foreign companies to get ideas off the ground.

“The Government needs to look at how it can provide the infrastructure to support innovation by ensuring small technology firms have access to finance, facilities and advice”, Miller concluded.

IChemE’s chief executive David Brown said: “We welcome the Select Committee’s report and, with the next CSR likely to see further funding cuts in most Government departments of between eight and ten per cent from 2015, it is a timely reminder of the importance of scientific research to the UK’s economy.

“It is great to see our members in the North West of England helping to lead the debate and contributing to policy development in this field”.

The Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review is scheduled for 26 June 2013. The
Government has yet to respond to the Select Committee’s report.

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