From Monday 24 September 2012

Yesterday evening I attended the Big Innovation Centre’s Lib Dem Fringe event: It’s innovation stupid: Is the strategy for growth working?

This was by far the liveliest event I’ve attended during the Lib Dem conference so far. Although Will Hutton only used the F word once, an animated discussion unfolded which asked challenging questions about how and where growth comes from and if strategies for stimulating growth are adequately focused on where it matters most.

According to the panelists, austerity measures and macro-economic policies to promote growth by stimulating supply and demand are wholly inadequate to overcome the scale of the problems today; far worse than the recessions of last century, when empire and credit booms came to the rescue. So what will be the UK’s get out of jail card today?

The panelists argued for an intelligent ecosystems approach to innovation policy. This would require an open and reflexive system, with reform of markets, places and networks, to enable innovation in the firms that are most capable of generating the wealth and employment needed to get the UK out of recession.

At the Royal Society, we too are thinking about our role in the UK’s innovation ecosystem. Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, recently said in a speech alongside Secretary of State Vince Cable ‘our economy must be built on a network of science, translation, innovation and industrialisation. It will not be effective just to have an industrial strategy, we need a joined up Science, Innovation and Industrial Strategy’.