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Posted: May 9, 2008

Blueprint for GBP 1bn UK technology drive unveiled

(Nanowerk News) The UK's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has revealed its three-year strategic plan and outlined how it will promote and invest in technology-driven innovation for the benefit of business, to increase sustainable economic growth and to improve quality of life.
TSB's strategic plan titled "Connect and Catalyse – a strategy for business innovation"lays out how it will invest £1 billion (approx $2 billion) in areas such as energy generation, alternative building materials, nanotechnology and low carbon transport to boost innovative R&D and business. The plan means chemists could see more funding in areas such as energy generation, alternative building materials, nanotechnology and low carbon transport.
Chief Executive Iain Gray summarised the Technology Strategy Board's role as "ensuring that the UK is in the forefront of technology-enabled innovation." He outlined how the Technology Strategy Board will:
Provide innovation leadership, promote knowledge exchange, build networks and invest in new ideas, and
Stimulate new areas of activity for business and provide a longer term view of future technology and innovation needs across the UK economy and globally.
Iain Gray explained that the Technology Strategy Board will, over the next three years, invest according to three main themes:
  • innovation in response to societal and economic challenges;
  • innovation inspired by existing and emerging technology, where the UK leads or could lead, and
  • the "innovation climate", or the culture in which innovation can grow.
  • Annual investment in these areas will be in a ratio of 50%, 25% and 25% respectively by 2011.
    Turning to specific areas of activity, Iain Gray explained that the Technology Strategy Board will:
    Increase its focus on challenge-led innovation and helping business find opportunities in societal challenges such as climate change and the ageing population.
  • Double the number of Innovation Platforms (from five to ten), which take a new cross-cutting approach to these challenges.
  • Develop strategies in key market application areas representing major societal or economic challenges to the UK.
  • Develop and implement a strategy to promote the rapid commercialisation of emerging technologies and industries.
  • Double the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and increase their flexibility.
  • Carry out a strategic review of Knowledge Transfer Networks, and reinforce and extend their role.
  • Pilot a reformed Small Business Research Initiative.
  • Work to maximise the positive impact of government procurement on innovation.
  • Iain Gray added that, working with the Regional Development Agencies, Devolved Assemblies and Research Councils, the Technology Strategy Board will invest over £1 billion in the next three years to promote and support innovation - and that, given the organisation's proven ability to obtain matching private sector investment, this figure will double to over £2 billion.
    He also emphasised that the Technology Strategy Board had listened carefully to business and to partner organisations before drawing up its strategic plan, and he made clear that the organisation will:
  • Ensure that the support provided is flexible and meets the needs of business;
  • Simplify and streamline delivery of programmes;
  • Invest in some areas with a higher level of risk, as part of a balanced portfolio, and
  • Evaluate investments to keep them effective.
  • Iain Gray said that to underpin the overall strategy the Technology Strategy Board was developing detailed strategies on its specific areas of focus. Two of these were also revealed today - for high value manufacturing and energy generation and supply.
    Describing the three-year strategic plan as the Technology Strategy Board's "roadmap", Iain Gray said that the organisation "Has already come a long way. We inherited a strong foundation of successful programmes promoting innovation. Now we have new vision and ambition. We want to make the UK a global leader in innovation. That is our destination and this strategic plan is our roadmap for the coming few years."
    Speaking at the launch of the Technology Strategy Board's strategic plan, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham said: "The recent DIUS White Paper outlined our determination to make the UK an ‘Innovation Nation', and highlighted the key role of the Technology Strategy Board in achieving this.
    "Innovation will be the key to some of the biggest challenges facing our society, like global warming and sustainable development. We need to ensure that Britain contributes to the innovative solutions and that British business and the British people benefit from the new opportunities and prosperity they create.
    "Since its establishment last year the Technology Strategy Board has been talking to business and partners and has today painted a powerful picture of the direction we need to move in. "It is for everyone, business and public sector alike, to take up the challenge and join us in this important innovation journey".
    Source: TSB