There exists the concept of a valley of death that prevents the progress of science from the laboratory bench to the point where it provides the basis of a commercially successful business or product. The future success of the UK economy has been linked to the success of translating a world class science base to generate new businesses with the consequent generation of UK jobs and wealth.
A troubling feature of technology companies in the UK is how many are acquired by foreign owners where the subsequent jobs and wealth are generated outside the UK.
We consider it important that investors have a better understanding about technology investments and that the Government ensure that investors have ready access to information that would encourage their interest in technology based investments. The amount of information available would, in our view, be improved by the restoration of both the R&D Scoreboard and Bank of England monitoring on the availability of finance to SMEs.
The Technology Strategy Board is becoming the focus for government innovation policy and we considered the portfolio of funding mechanisms and facilities available for them to support innovation and growth. We were concerned about the access of small firms to large scale test and experimental production facilities. We considered that the Technology Strategy Board and other commercialisation activities needed to ensure projects were properly supported in issues of manufacturing capability. We recommended that Government consider how they can resource the TSB to provide local level advice to technology businesses. The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and the SMART Award scheme would appear to be successful initiatives but lack sufficient funds to meetthe demand from companies. We consider it vital that the Catapults are made to work but have concerns that they may be pushed to become self-financing too quickly.
We recommend that that TSB produce a review of regulatory burdens on technological innovation in the UK that includes a roadmap of how that regulatory reform might be used to drive innovation and which institutions should take the lead.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
UK - House of Commons report on bridging science in the laboratory to commercial success calls for more information for investors and support for technologists
Under the somewhat exotic title Bridging the valley of death: improving the commercialisation of research (HC 348), the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published its eighth report of the session. (See also the written evidence.)