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2024 UK Innovation Report launched

Published on March 22nd 2024

Policy experts from Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy have published the latest data on the UK’s innovation activity and industrial performance globally.

Delegates from industry and government came to the Institute for Government yesterday to hear key findings of the fourth edition of the UK Innovation Report.

“The report contains an enormous amount of important information about the UK’s innovation approach, which is essential for the government to know in order to develop the policies necessary to speed up the innovation rate of UK industry sectors.”

Lord David Sainsbury, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and former Minister of Science and Innovation. 

Compiled by Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy, part of the Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, the report provides a clear and easy-to-navigate overview of key trends across UK industry.

It is an essential resource for navigating the evolving landscape of innovation and technological progress in the UK, answering questions such as: Is the government and private sector spending enough on research and development? And is the UK producing enough scientists and engineers?

The 2024 edition also contains information about the structure and performance of the UK machinery and equipment sector, which is crucial in supporting productivity and competitiveness across various industries.

Dr Carlos López-Gómez from Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy said: “The report aims to facilitate discussions on innovation and industrial performance by looking at policy issues from different angles. By incorporating new and innovative datasets, we provide a fresh outlook every year. And, in an ever-changing political landscape, the report remains steadfast in its commitment to provide timely updates on the UK’s innovation ecosystem.”

This year’s report:

  • Reviews the UK’s sectoral productivity and economic restructuring during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.
  • Examines the latest data on UK research and development (R&D) expenditure and reviews the country’s performance across various stages of innovation.
  • Delves into the performance of the UK’s machinery and equipment manufacturing sector, incorporating insights from industry expert consultations.
  • Analyses the UK’s production of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates and their job opportunities.
  • Reviews the UK’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy and examines the decoupling of the UK’s economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions.

“What this year’s report shows,” said Carlos, “is that, encouragingly, the UK remains a global leader for scientific research. The UK produces more academic publications than any other country after China and the US, and in terms of research quality (measured by citations), the UK is number 1 in the world.

“However, it also highlights some areas of concern. This scientific knowledge does not translate into economic value for the UK through industrial activity. In practice, this means that technologies developed in the UK are often commercialised and produce well-paid jobs elsewhere.

“And, although the UK’s spending on R&D is higher than the average of the OECD countries, it is still below that of leading nations. Furthermore, despite a relatively high proportion of STEM graduates, substantial skill gaps persist in critical areas such as engineering, manufacturing, and construction.

“The data, therefore, emphasises the need for policy frameworks that see technology development and industrial leadership as integral and interdependent components of value creation.”

“The report is my innovation data bible.”

Nina Gryf, Senior Policy Manager, Make UK

“If we’re going to raise our rate of innovation, it’s not by making grandiose statements which say we are a scientific superpower, which is what often happens these days, but by systems improving the innovation performance of our companies. And to do that, we need the excellent detailed information that is systematically set out in the UK Innovation Report 2024,” said Lord David Sainsbury.

The contributors to this report are Carlos López-Gómez, David Leal-Ayala, Michele Palladino, Jennifer Castañeda-Navarrete, Mateus Labrunie and Zongshuai Fan.


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