The new PM Rishi Sunak and the Government are facing challenges on multiple fronts as new ministers take up their positions.

The far reaching and cross sectoral nature of many of these challenges is such that they demand innovative solutions. The ability to draw on UK expertise in universities and businesses will play a key role in developing the innovative products, processes and services needed to meet these challenges.

Since 2000, the Government has operated a flagship programme, in the form of the R&D tax credits system, to encourage investment in UK R&D. The Finance Bill has proposed some changes to R&D tax credits, which is now a substantial programme. Having recently chaired an NCUB roundtable on R&D tax credits, it was valuable to have HMRC, industry and academia in the same “virtual room” participating in a lively exchange of views which provided some concrete suggestions to address the areas highlighted by HMRC for review in the Finance Bill.

There are several ways in which the government can and does support innovation.  A powerful demonstration of this was during the recent COVID crisis where partnerships were formed across government, business, academia and the charity sectors to quickly deliver highly innovative solutions to the many challenges we faced. A key element of success here was the government’s ability to act as first customer for the innovative products and services developed and their willingness to enter a joint dialogue that helped shape an environment which enabled the solutions to be delivered rapidly and safely.

There is an opportunity to continue with this type of approach, adapting the lessons learned during COVID to address the far-reaching challenges we face today across multiple sectors. An open and frank discussion on what went well and what didn’t, and some time taken to determine how the lessons might be applicable to other areas could enable development of innovative ways of thinking and enable partnerships that could really make a difference in accelerating the UK towards delivering the solutions we need locally, regionally, and nationally.