What does success look like for innovation and technology centres?

An event discussing how to use innovation and technology centres to increase the UK's innovation

From left to right David Evans, Andy Hopper, Phil Smith, Vince Cable, David Grant The UK’s Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, the Cabinet Minister responsible for the UK Catapult programme provided a keynote address for an international event held at the IET on 22 October 2012 to discuss “What does success look like for innovation and technology centres?”

Dr Cable argued that the UK could transform its capacity for innovation by following the example of countries such as Germany, the USA, Taiwan and South Korea, which all have a network of these centres.

“Much of the inspiration behind what we’re doing has come from looking at this internationally, at international best practice and how best the UK can compete,” Dr Cable said. “We are an open country – open to foreign investment, open to foreign ideas, and I think that is one of the great strengths of this country.”

Dr Cable spoke of the importance of innovation to economic growth and living standards, arguing that “without innovation we would literally be living back in the Stone Age”.

“Economic evidence suggests two-thirds of the rise in labour productivity and living standards comes from innovation,” he said. “In the UK this is absolutely fundamental to our future.”

The event was jointly organised and sponsored by the IET’s Innovation & Emerging Technologies Policy Panel, the Technology Strategy Board - which has been tasked by the British Government with establishing the network, and BIG (Big Innovation Centre). The event helped to shape the work of establishing the centres and provide an opportunity for an international exchange between technology and innovation centres on how they identify, measure and benchmark success and good performance.

The event was a great success with a 100-strong audience comprising senior representatives from major European innovation and technology centres alongside UK participants working to establish the new Catapult network.  The day provided an interactive and international learning experience for all participants.

Phil Smith, the chair of the TSB, said he wanted the Catapult Centres to be recognised for excellence internationally, and that the UK needed to build partnerships with similar organisations abroad so it can access new technology developed overseas and help UK business to create partnerships with similar businesses abroad. “Catapult Centres have a very bright future,” he said. 

“We the IET are glad to help the UK catapult centres achieve success as they will make a vital connection between academic research and those working in the field,” said IET President Andy Hopper. “The aims of the catapult centres are aligned very much with the mission and the values of the IET.


Presentations from the event on innovation and technology centres