Is the UK’s position as a global innovation leader at risk?

New research shows that a majority of UK organisations suffer from “innovation inertia” or a lack of consensus in where to invest their resources. Does the UK need to re-focus its efforts so as not to be left behind?


The research from Hitachi Data Systems found that 75 per cent of organisations are being hampered in their investment decisions by a lack of clarity and access to business data. Additionally, a staggering 90 per cent of IT leaders believed their organisation was not in a position to respond to rapid change in it industry.

Although there is a much-increased volume of data available to business leaders, it appears that many are not being able to leverage this effectively. From a long-term point of view, this leaves British organisations potentially lagging behind their global competitors.

Lack of Investment

Alongside the “inertia” caused by a lack of organisational investment appears to be a significant decrease in investment in innovation at a national level.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has revealed that the UK spent the least on innovation and science of any of the G8 nations in the past year, with only 0.49 per cent of GDP invested back in these areas.

The CBI also argued that more Governmental support was required in order to make innovation more attractive for businesses, a stronger framework and a re-thinking of business rates two of its key suggestions.

Industry leaders have also warned that innovation could be harmed should the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills change innovation and R&D grants from the UK Government, to loans.

Representatives of the aerospace, automotive and pharmaceutical industries have warned that this could lead to fewer R&D projects in the UK, and organisations shifting new R&D projects abroad.

Falling Behind?

Although there is much talk about the UK falling behind, the situation is perhaps less perilous that it seems.

The 2015 Global Innovation Index (GII) places the UK as one of the world’s top five most-innovative nations, both from a volume and quality point of view. This ranks the UK alongside economic peers such as Sweden and the USA, as well as being ahead of Germany and growth economies such as China and Brazil.

It could be argued, based on the comments from the CBI, that an increase in investment in innovation is required to keep the UK in its current position, rather than have the country play catch up with its global peers.

Ambition is Key

Yet, the UK and UK-based organisations need to continue to innovate and create in order to maintain its position. How best, though, to kick-start more innovation projects?

Richard Jones, pro-vice chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Sheffield, believes that universities will play a major role in rebuilding the UK’s innovation programmes.

In a speech to the Association for University Research and Industry Links’ annual conference, Professor Jones argued that universities needed to see what they could contribute to wider society and be more “ambitious” to achieve their goals.

Lead by Example

In the past 12 months, two of the UK’s most famous innovators, James Dyson and Richard Branson, have both invested in programmes to help boost innovative and entrepreneurial activities in the country.

Having figureheads leading by example, as well as investing time and money into this, could potentially give the UK the lift it needs in the coming years to keep its place at the top of the tree.

Do you think the UK needs to be more innovative? Is the country at risk of falling behind, or are the reports over-stated? Start the discussion on Procurious!

Stuck for a conversation in the coffee queue this morning? Procurious has gathered all the big headlines in procurement and supply chain for you…

Talk Talk Boss Warns of ‘Arms Race’

  • Talk Talk Chief Executive, Dido Harding, has warned that all UK companies are under threat of a “cyber security arms race”
  • The hack on the telecommunications company happened last Wednesday and has affected millions of customers, although no losses have been directly attributed to the hack as yet
  • Harding warned that any company in the UK could be vulnerable to a cyber attack
  • She went on to say, “This is happening to a huge number of organisations all the time. The awful truth is that every company, every organisation in the UK needs to spend more money and put more focus on cyber security – it’s the crime of our era.”


London Mayor Contradicted on Garden Bridge Procurement

  • Claims that the procurement process behind the Garden Bridge was ‘robust’ made by London mayor Boris Johnson have been directly contradicted by TfL’s director of internal audit
  • Clive Walker, the man who oversaw mayoral body Transport for London’s internal investigation, conceded that the process was neither ‘open’ nor ‘objective’
  • Critics have suggested that TfL made attempts to ‘water down’ the audit and introduce elements which reflected well on its performance

Read more at Architect’s Journal

Technology Means Traffic Jams Could Be ‘Thing of the Past’

  • Motoring and technology engineers are hard work on the next generation of connected vehicles, which could completely transform British roads.
  • The concept revolves around cars talking to the city and guiding drivers through the busy streets with minimal delay
  • Siemens and NXP are in the process of designing the in-car chips and infrastructure to build ‘intelligent road systems’, allowing drivers to be kept up to date with conditions in real time
  • The technology giants believe the systems will be ready to go in the UK by 2020

Read more at The Express

Hyperloop Test to Start within ‘Weeks’

  • Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has announced it will start work on the $6bn Hyperloop test track within the next two to three weeks
  • The Hyperloop system, originally the concept of Elon Musk, has had to overcome a number of issues to get to this stage, aims to create super-fast, cheap transportation between major cities
  • The system, which will be solar powered, could transport over ten million passengers during testing