Throughout 2018, the IET has hosted a series of high-level policy discussions aimed at supporting and informing the newly-formed UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) organisation in the development of its infrastructure roadmap, considering how it can benefit the country as a whole.
This conference brought together the thoughts and conclusions of each of these meetings, and opened up the debate to a wider audience.
The event began with an introduction from IET Chief Executive Nigel Fine, followed by a keynote from Dr Vallance, who is also the Head of the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) Profession. His talk focused on how the UK can reach its spending target of 2.4% of GDP on R&D, how that objective compares to the contributions that are made in other countries and where the UK currently stands on the international leader board in other related areas such as innovation efficiency.
The second keynote speech came from Rebecca Endean, Director of Strategy for UKRI. Endean outlined the funding agency’s vision and structure, how R&D expenditure is funded across the UK and the impact of foreign direct investment (FDI). She also explained why reaching the 2.4% target should be just the start of the UK’s ambitions as other countries are already making bigger gains with their R&D spending.
The conference then moved on to a series of parallel panel sessions focussed on each of the five pillars of the UK’s industrial strategy, addressing the following themes:
- Ideas - How do we encourage, develop and use innovation?
- Infrastructure - How do we ensure innovation with our infrastructure systems?
- People - How do we develop skills alongside new technologies?
- Business environment - How do we drive growth across the economy?
- Places - How do we support innovation across the entire UK?
These sessions provided opportunities for open debate and questions from the audience. The IET and the Royal Academy of Engineering also jointly presented their new innovation-themed reports in this segment, including the IET’s latest paper on ‘Bridging the Innovation Gaps’.
The conference concluded with an address from Vincent Tang of the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which outlined the successes and challenges that it has faced since its formation 60 years ago.
The event was hosted by the IET’s Innovation and Emerging Technologies Policy Panel. For more information, please visit the Panel’s webpage.