Jonathan Kestenbaum, Chief Executive, NESTA, looks at how the UK is well-placed to be at the heart of the global innovation revolution.
NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts ? a unique body with a mission to make the UK more innovative. We do this in three ways: by investing in early-stage companies, informing and shaping policy and delivering practical programmes that inspire others to solve the big challenges of the future. Innovation is vital to the future economic prosperity and social well-being of a country. It provides the answers to some of the most intractable social problems, and it also enables businesses to compete as well as prosper in a global economy.
The UK has a great tradition of innovation. But in a modern economy, innovation is no longer just about science and technology in manufacturing sectors. Innovation happens across different sectors of the economy ? in financial services, retail, consultancy and the public sector.
It is also taking place in different ways. Traditionally, the search for new ideas has tended to happen ?behind closed doors?, in research labs and design departments, all carefully protected by intellectual property rights. But this is changing rapidly. Today, innovation is far less controlled and predictable. A good idea can come from (literally) anywhere. Innovation has gone global. Businesses are sharing knowledge and innovation activities with partners across the world. Skilled workforces are becoming more mobile. As a consequence, deriving value from innovation increasingly depends on absorbing ideas as much as creating them.
Already, organisations across the world are responding to this new reality. They are experimenting with open source software development, agreeing universal technical standards and using technology to build previously impossible en masse collaborations to create entirely new products and services.
NESTA is at the heart of this work ? developing a range of pioneering new approaches that give large companies access to new products and ideas sourced externally from small businesses and provides risk capital for social enterprises. In addition, NESTA is designing an Innovation Index that will measure the UK?s innovation performance and which will serve as an effective tool for targeting and measuring past, present and future policy interventions.
The UK, with its tradition of openness, flexibility and free trade is well placed to be at the heart of this new revolution. But it requires all the actors ? including businesses, universities and government ? to collaborate, and embrace globalisation.
For more information, visit: www.nesta.org.uk
Added the 01 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1