CSaP is working with the UK Innovation Research Centre (UK~IRC) and others to design a consultation, seminar and workshop programme which will bring together the latest research and those who are best placed to apply it.
Innovation - particularly the means by which a culture of innovation can be encouraged and supported - is a recurrent concern of policy makers and was frequently raised during the CSaP's recent programme of consultations in Whitehall. Both economic policy makers and those interested in improving the process of policy-making itself are in search of an understanding of where innovation comes from and how interventions can be most effectively targeted. Discussions with civil servants have focussed on how innovations arise primarily in process rather than in products and on the need to maintain blue sky research in order to sustain the pipeline of new ideas and insights. Most importantly perhaps the interest in this area cuts across disciplines and departments - it's not only in the ministry which has "innovation" in its name (BIS) but also in the Treasury DEFRA and elsewhere; moreover policy makers see a need to "complete the triangle" by bringing both academics and industry into the discussion which the CSaP is excellently placed to achieve.
In response to these demands the CSaP is working with the UK Innovation Research Centre (UK~IRC) and others to design a consultation seminar and workshop programme which will bring together the latest research and those who are best placed to apply it. UK~IRC is a collaborative research initiative between the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London for cutting-edge research and knowledge exchange activities on how innovation can make businesses more competitive improve public services delivery and help the UK meet the social environmental and economic challenges it faces. As well as extending the reach of this group more widely across Whitehall the group convened by CSaP intends to broaden the range of disciplines by bringing in innovation specialists from Engineering and other parts of the University as well as CSaP Associate Fellow Ben Martin from SPRU who has already worked with the UK-IRC on the evidence base for innovation policy.
The group expects to provide a research-based critical analysis of existing models of innovation and innovation policy design and to encourage new ways of thinking - for example to show how the "innovation systems" model might represent an improvement on approaches based on the "market failure" model. The UK-IRC is conducting international comparative research and case studies in this area; by bringing together a range of disciplines the group is looking to engage in a concrete way with the process of policy formation rather than just to study it and to work with and across departments which are well set up to access scientific expertise in their own domains but not to understand the process by which science creates innovation or indeed the approaches being taken elsewhere in government. Ultimately it will address the key question facing policy in this area today - how can scarce resources best be used to stimulate innovation in the economy?
The group will begin by convening a consultation meeting in Whitehall to gather input on policy makers' needs and on the key questions that need to be addressed in developing innovation policy in the recovery.
Thumbnail image from UK IRC website
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