Response to the consultation on the future of Innovate UK

18 February 2016

We welcome the Government’s stated intention to “strengthen collaboration” between Innovate UK and the research base. There is potential for Innovate UK to work more closely with world-class universities to tap into existing centres of excellence and maximise the impact of Innovate UK’s investment. Closer relationships with the Research Councils could unlock additional synergies between Innovate UK and Research Council funding streams.

However, we are not convinced Innovate UK needs to be merged into Research UK to achieve this closer working relationship with either the Research Councils or universities.

If Innovate UK is merged into Research UK then it should retain a completely separate budget within Research UK and must not be integrated without its concomitant funding. The way in which Innovate UK is governed and its accountability is structured will also need careful consideration under the new proposed model.

The conversion of grants to loans could introduce additional risks for universities in participating in collaborative projects and could make it harder to attract matched funding from businesses. Other financial instruments being considered for Innovate UK, including taking equity stakes in the outcome of projects, will almost certainly add further complications for how Innovate UK is managed, whether businesses and universities will be willing to engage and whether Innovate UK will be able to deliver truly innovative technologies in future.

In the context of a flat-cash settlement for Innovate UK we would not wish to see a reduction in funding available for collaborative programmes with universities as such programmes deliver a high return on investment and bring radical ideas from basic research through to market.

Response to the consultation on the future of Innovate UK

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