“Monitoring innovation is important for understanding the UK’s economic performance both now and in the future.”
On Wednesday, EEF (The Manufacturer’s organisation) and NatWest launched their Innovation Monitor 2014/15.
It sets out manufactures’ views on how changing economic conditions affect the opportunities and challenges associated with innovation. The report is available for download here.
Monitoring innovation is important for understanding the UK’s economic performance both now and in the future. With our range of innovation projects, it’s a topic we’re all very interested in at NCUB.
This monitor highlights some statistics well known by those in innovation, for example, that the UK is an ‘innovation follower’ within the EU, with countries such as Sweden and Denmark at the top of the scoreboard.
Innovation Monitor, page 10
How do we measure innovation? It’s based on 25 indicators such as research and product development.
“If the UK wants to keep up with its innovation competitors, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland can we really afford to be narrowing our innovation focus?”
Although in the UK we have a strong science base, we are relatively weak in terms of bringing innovations to market or developing new products based on innovation discoveries. As a result, our average drops and hence we are seen as innovation followers compared to countries that are better all-rounders but might not be particularly strong at any once aspect. So we shouldn’t despair but do more to maximise the innovation impact of our world-class research, something we have been working on at NCUB through the Growing Value project.
Other findings in the monitor are more novel and interesting for understanding innovation in firms. The report shows that in 2013 there was a peak in the number of companies engaging in 3 or more types of innovation, 75% compared to the previous year’s 35%. In 2014 the number of companies in the sector carrying out more than 3 types of innovation reduced back to 35%, possibly due to the demands of managing multiple innovation processes.
When asking their members about this statistic, the view EEF discovered was that their members would rather focus their innovation efforts on 1 or 2 successful activities instead of having multiple programmes of innovation that fail.
However, where innovation fails there is a lot to be learned and discovered, the danger of focussing on ‘safe’ innovation is that the sector misses out on opportunities to make discoveries that they wouldn’t have otherwise. If the UK wants to keep up with its innovation competitors, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Finland can we really afford to be narrowing our innovation focus?
Sally Devine is Project Manager for Innovation & R&D at NCUB.
Growing Value is a NCUB Innovation initiative that seeks to maximise the economic impact of the UK’s research base through fostering university-business collaboration. Growing Value is a result of the Enhancing Value Task Force, co-chaired by David Eyton (BP) and Dame Shirley Pearce. The research, findings and recommendations of the Task Force are collected in the recently published Growing Value book.