UKRI publishes study of innovation readiness in UK Foundation Industries
The report, conducted by Lee Hopley, Dr Ian Drummond and Dr Temitope Akinremi, presents key findings from across the sector, covering energy and resource efficiency, business concerns and opportunities for innovation and policy development.
Interestingly, a third of businesses across the sectors were identified as having not implemented new products or processes within the last three years, with UK foundation industries innovation intensity generally lower than overseas competitors.
However, the need to address sustainability within the foundation industries generated some innovation. Around half of the businesses involved in the study had invested in technology to improve energy efficiency within the past three years, although the study showed larger businesses were more likely to make these investments.
Several factors were reported as barriers to innovation within the foundation industries. Across each sector, risk was considered a significant barrier, in particular the high cost of innovation and uncertainty around the UK’s relationship with the EU. Leadership skills also presented issues, as well as structural barriers such as limited opportunity for collaboration, pressure from regulations to meet targets and underdeveloped management.
Bruce Adderley, Director of UKRI’s Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge, said:
“The foundation sector is mature, with large entry costs tending to limit new entrants. As result of this low level of churn, innovation and competition can be suppressed.
Given this challenge, and the energy intensive nature of the UK’s foundation industries themselves, it will take highly disruptive and transformational efforts across the sector to achieve the government’s net zero obligations.
Our research has shown foundation industries to be distinctive in a number of ways and we believe that steps can be taken to inform policy, and increase engagement and much-needed collaboration, particularly among small businesses.
We also want to encourage industry bodies and trade associations to use their position to play an increasing role in promoting and enabling innovation. With this support from within the industries themselves, we believe our role of helping develop and fund innovation will be a great force for lasting change.”
Andrew Large, Director General, Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) said:
“CPI is pleased to be working closely with UKRI on the Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge. We recognise that innovation will be key to unfolding a net-zero carbon, resource and materials efficient UK in the 21st Century and we welcome the opportunity to engage both with government and other industry bodies to push this agenda forwards.
We share the concerns in this report about barriers to innovation and we look forward to contributing to their removal”
Published: March 16th, 2021
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