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INNOVATION UK9 A key element of the Technology Strategy Board's approach focuses on " challenge- led" innovation. Heidi Lovelock, Head of Innovation Platforms, explains this idea, the organisation's work in this area and what it means for business Challenge- led innovation When the Technology Strategy Board was established in 2007 as a stand- alone body from government, we were given a leadership role in stimulating technology-enabled innovation for the benefit of the UK economy. This was an exciting ambition and, at the same time, seemed rather daunting. The " landscape" of innova-tion is huge and rather fragmented. Many companies located here are already world leaders in R& D. Yet, at the same time, every corner of industry and business offers potential for innovation to make a difference. We were building on a foundation of good work done by the former DTI, but we knew that, given our finite size and budget, we would have to work fast to understand where our efforts could make most difference, where we should focus, and how we could bring in partners and co- ordinate resources from elsewhere to make the biggest impact possible on this vital agenda. As well as maintaining and developing the existing pro-grammes of R& D investment that we inherited, and tak-ing into our portfolio other established programmes such as the Knowledge Transfer Networks and Knowl-edge Transfer Partnerships, we set about thinking hard about our strategic focus. In this process the concept of challenge- led innovation clearly " floated to the top", and has turned out to have a fundamental role in what we do and our future strategy. To us, challenge- led innovation means the process by which societal needs, market demands or economic challenges tend to pull new products and services from basic research, through development towards commercialisation. We draw a distinction between this and " technology- inspired" innovation, which is driven by scientific advance or technological achievement. Britain has great strengths and is an acknowledged leader in many sectors. Areas such as aerospace or pharma-ceuticals are traditional powerhouses. We also have a deep well of invention and enterprise, with innovation stemming from brilliant ideas and technological break-throughs over hundreds of years. We coined the term " technology- inspired" for this valu-able stream of innovation. Our strategic review made it clear that this would continue to be important to the UK's economic future and we had to continue support in this area. We also knew that there was work to be done in fostering a climate of innovation in the UK. The Knowledge Transfer Networks and Knowledge Trans-fer Partnerships were performing a valuable function, but were not yet pervasive in business. There was great scope to increase the country's appetite for and belief in innovation. But it was in the challenge- led area - encompassing both market needs and major societal issues - that we knew we could gain most dramatically, with need and demand as powerful mechanisms for pulling innovation through to commercial reality. In the strategy we published in May 2008, we stated that while we would maintain support for technol-ogy- inspired innovation and that we would work to foster an innovation climate, challenge- led innovation would grow significantly in terms of where we invested our resources. We identified a number of broad application areas on which to focus. These include medicines and healthcare; energy generation and supply; transport; environmental sustainability; the built environment; creative industries; and high- value services. British Innovation challenge- led inovation

10INNOVATION UKINNOVATION We recognised that these challenges are a major force for innovation. This is not a new idea - the phrase " necessity is the mother of invention" is hardly recent. But mak-ing challenge- led innovation a key strategic focus for the Technology Strategy Board has proved a powerful way to express our goals, highlight the benefits for business of innovation and engage others in making it happen. To accelerate innovation in these varied areas, we have a range of different tools at our disposal. One is the Small Business Research Initiative ( SBRI). This is a process by which innovative companies can bid for contracts ( not grants) with government departments or public bodies to research, develop and eventually sup-ply new solutions to some of their pressing problems. Relaunched in 2008, the new SBRI scheme has already seen over 250 contracts awarded as a result of competi-tions in areas from defence to healthcare, resulting in a boost for many businesses. Examples include competi-tions for companies to find solutions to issues such as hand- transmitted infection in the healthcare sector, and the weight of equipment carried by soldiers. Some challenges - including major societal issues of our day - stand out above others. This is where our innovation platforms approach comes into its own. An innovation platform, an idea developed by the Tech-nology Strategy Board, is an approach to innovation that starts with one of these major challenges - an issue press-ing enough for government to take action to address it. Examples include the ageing population, with larger numbers of people needing help to remain independent; the increasing problems of network security in an online world; or growing transport congestion and the problems of integrating transport systems. Such imperatives to act will create future markets - but for products and services which may not yet exist. Under an innovation platform we bring government, research-ers and the business community together to work on the issues, understand the future market needs and think about how to generate the innovative solutions that may be required. We would then bring a variety of tools to bear, depending on the circumstances, to help make this innovation happen - faster and with greater business benefit to the UK. We may use a " sand- pit" - a technique in which a group of key people with different perspectives on the problem spend an intensive week together, to understand the issue deeply and work out where and how to focus innovation to make a difference. We may invest in research and development, or fund demonstration programmes to break log- jams and improve markets by testing the practi-cality of solutions. And we will usually bring on board key partners, such as research councils, government depart-ments or regional development agencies, who have an interest or can help to fund solutions, creating a much greater critical mass to address the problem. Innovation platform development In late 2005, the Technology Strategy Board announced its first innovation platforms. These first two pilots focused on how to develop a more sustainable transport system and how to guarantee per-sonal and information security in the new Internet age. Under the titles of Intelligent Transport Systems and Serv-ices ( ITSS) and Network Security, they involve the Tech-nology Strategy Board working with the Department for Transport and the Home Office respectively to address these challenges. British Innovation challenge- led inovation