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R&D Society Vision and Mission 2023

· Policy,Technology,Society News
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R&D Society Vision and Mission 2023

The R&D Society is undergoing a transition to become the UK’s leading independent think tank on the commercialisation of R&D. We make evidence-based recommendations for the commercialisation ofscience and technology, which help policymakers and businesses understand the impact that their policy and innovation decisions have on the UK’s economic growth.

The government has repeatedly championed Britain as a “science and technology superpower”, rightly highlighting our universities’ world-leading artificial intelligence and life sciences research. But such research can improve lives, deliver value to our society and strengthen our economy ONLY if it is commercialised and applied in the real world.

UK and International context

At the start of 2021, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, argued that “the future success and wellbeing of the UK will be directly linked to how well we leverage science and technology over the next 50 years”. The Prime Minister suggested three areas of focus in supporting innovation:

  1. Harness innovation for economic growth
  2. Embed innovation in public services
  3. Teach people the skills to be great innovators.

The primary focus of the R&D Society is to address focus area 1) ‘Harness innovation for economic growth’ ie commercialise R&D.

UK Industrial Strategy

The Departments for Business, Energy & IndustrialStrategy (BEIS) and Department for International Trade (DIT) have recently (7/2/2023)  been reorganised into 3 new departments, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and the Department for Business and Trade (DBT)Ref 1. There are a number of questions and issues that need to be addressed given the current business environment in the UK:

  1. What are the responsibilities of each of these government departmentsand what budgets will they control?
  2. How will they contribute to the commercialisation of R&D within the UK? 
  3. What is the UK Government’s Industrial Strategyand what policy initiatives are there to accelerate economic growth?
  4. How will government move towards stability in long term industrial/business policy strategies?
  5. The current politico-economic climate has driven companies to simplify and shorten supply chains, looking for on-shore manufacturing. Is this commercially sensible and how might this impact the UK innovation ecosystem?
  6. How can the government’s procurement strategy better support economic growth?

The UK also needs toreact urgently to a number of international initiatives:

  1. US Inflation Reduction Act – Incentives for US citizens to buy local will make UK goods less competitive and also encourage US companies to relocate back to US. Significant government spending on green technology will also distort the world market for environmentally sustainable products.
  2. European Green Deal – Focused on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and decoupling economic growth from resource use, with funding of €600B from the Next Generation EU Recovery Plan and the EU’s seven-year budget. This will have a similar effect to the US IRA.
  3. UK leaving the EU (Brexit)
    1. Lack of post-Brexit trade deals with major trading nations/blocs worldwide, including India who are focusing on building their own R&D and skills sectors.
    2. Lack of research funding for UK universities to replace EU funding (Horizon, ERDF etc).

It is time to focus on action. For Government, this means increasing engagement with industry and other stakeholdersto build an effective Commercialisation Infrastructure. Government’s role is to develop and implement effective policies, allocate public sector resources and implement interventions that enable businesses to commercialise innovation from multiple sources.

For Businesses, this means working to increase the likelihood of success in bringing to market new products, processes and services.

For Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) practitioners in both the public and private sectors, this means getting involved in the debate and sharing your views with other members of the R&D Society.

The mission of the R&D Society is to promote integrated thinking where commercialisation policy/ strategy is coupled with resource allocation and intervention management. This will be done by reviewing and analysing the commercialisation of R&D within the UK through 3 lenses:

  1. Maturity of the sector, technology and R&D commercialisation initiatives. In particular, we will focus on those sectors/technologies where the UK has a strong position and growth potential.
  2. Engagement in and integration of the key drivers (meso-economic vectors)Ref 2 involved in R&D commercialisation.
  3. Progress towards and impact on the environmental sustainability of the sector.

The results of this analysis will be a set of recommendations and engagement plans for regional and governmental organisations to implement, designed to deliver effective, positive and relevant economic benefits for each region in the UK.

Things we will do to fulfill our mission

The R&D Society will do the following:

  • Research the process of the commercialisationof R&D including areas of common interest Between research and business
  • Engage with industry and complementary organisations
  • Communicate findings and recommendations
  • Promote debate within the innovation ecosystem

Research the process of the commercialisation of innovation –
Key issues toaddress/research:

  1. The commercialisation infrastructure in the UK– what infrastructure is needed to support the commercialisation of science and technology (skills training, research labs, pilot manufacturing plants, ‘catapults’, start-up hubs, RTOs ….)?
  2. The interplay between public and privateinvestment in the commercialisation of innovation – what is it currently in the UK, how does it compare with other major economies?
  3. How to assess the viability (social,environmental and financial) of innovations and the early-stage science and tech-based companies that champion them?
  4. The translation of innovation into‘commercial’ products and services – how to allocate resources & funding to enable companies to maximise the triple bottom line (social, environmental and
    financial) performance of their products?
  5. Understanding the relative importance of the key drivers Ref 2 affecting the growth of early-stage companies – what drivers to focus on for interventions at each stage in the growth journey?
  6. Key sectors/technologies where UK has the greatest opportunity to accelerate economic development over the next five years
  7. Definition and measurement of impact for any funded interventions – what and how to embed relevant metrics into interventions from the outset of the commercialisation process?
  8. The links between the three layers: policy definition, resource & funding allocation and the design & implementation of specific growth interventions.

Engage with industry and complementaryorganisations –

There are a wide range of industry bodies and organisations within the ‘innovation’ ecosystem that will be interested in the R&D Society findings, and we will engage and collaborate with:

  1. University TTOs (SETsquared, Oxford Science Enterprise, Northern Gritstone, Praxis Auril)
  2. Corporate R&D Directors
  3. FE College groups and skills trainingorganisations
  4. Trade associations (AIRTO, UKSPA ….)
  5. Think tanks (IFS, Resolution Foundation, EUthink-tanks ….)
  6. Government departments/agencies (DSIT, DBT, UKRI….)
  7. LEPs, County/Local Councils across the UK
  8. Business related associations (CBI, IoD, FSB,TUC ….)
  9. Regional groups, PRPs (Oxford-Cambridge, Midlands Engine, Northern Powerhouse ….)
  10. Technology/Innovation promoting organisations(Barclays Eagle Labs etc)

To communicate our findings andrecommendations, we will:

  1. Engage and communicate with policy makers in the key government departments and across the political landscape.
  2. Encourage businesses to improve the efficiency of their R&D efforts and accelerate the success of commercial implementations
  3. Publish strategy updates and regular reports on the R&DS website, encouraging and asking for comments and feedback.
  4. Use newsletters and blogs / active traffic underpinned by aprogramme of events and round tables in 2023/24/25.

Promote debate within the innovation ecosystem–
This will be focused on the following keysectors/market spaces:

  1. Decarbonisation of transport – collaborating with The Energy Systems Accelerator (TESA) in Oxford, Smart Cambridge, UK EV Commercialisation Centre ….
  2. Healthcare & Biotech – collaborating with Babraham Research Campus, MedCity ….
  3. Agri-tech/food – collaborating with EIT Food….
  4. Semi-conductors – design and prototype manufacturing for application specific chips eg autonomous vehicles, AI, quantum computing ….
  5. Software as applied to AI, metaverse, gaming,cyber ….
  6. Environmental sustainability