Innovate UK unveils £561m investment plan

Posted on 7 Apr 2016 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Government agency, Innovate UK, has today released its detailed delivery plan for 2016 to 2017.

The 2016/17 Delivery Plan is the first phase in a new era for Innovate UK. It sets out a £561m programme to boost productivity through scaling up of SMEs, creating new jobs and opening up new markets for the UK to compete in the world.

Plan outlines:

  • A new sector grouping approach to programmes
  • Simplified support for innovation
  • New activities to deliver on strategic 5-point plan

With a new sector focus, simplified support for innovation and activities to deliver its strategic 5-point plan, Innovate UK will concentrate on the most important tasks to maximise the benefit of innovation for the UK economy.

Chief executive, Dr Ruth McKernan said: “To be globally competitive the UK must innovate and grow. Innovation is responsible for 50% of all productivity growth and the mission of Innovate UK is to help make this happen. We will build on our track record of success, focusing ever more closely on scaling up SMEs, equipping them to reap the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution.

“We will be a simpler to understand organisation, with a clear sector focus and a more straightforward approach to competition funding. We will work ever more closely with the Research Councils and we will harness the expertise within our family organisations – our Catapult centres, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).”

Ruth McKernan CBE, new Chief Executive of Innovate UK
Ruth McKernan CBE, new Chief Executive of Innovate UK.

In the past five years, the focus of Innovate UK has been on driving innovation across the UK by investing in high-potential innovation projects; connecting businesses with each other and research; and by establishing the network of Catapult centres.

Building on this momentum, Innovate UK will accelerate sector growth anew, with a focused programme of smart investment, simplification and the roll out of new innovation finance products.


The Delivery Plan sets out the steps Innovate UK is taking to simplify the way it supports growth in the economy through a better alignment with industry sectors, and making funding programmes clearer and easier to navigate. This process starts to address recommendations contained in Dame Anne Dowling’s review of Business-University Research Collaborations, and more changes to simplify yet further will be implemented.

Clearer sector groups have been established which are easier for the industry, investors and the government (local, devolved and central) to understand. These are:

  • Emerging and enabling technologies
  • Health and life sciences
  • Infrastructure systems
  • Manufacturing and materials

Innovate UK will introduce a simpler sequence of 2 broad competitions in each sector group per year, plus 2 competitions open to applications from any exciting and compelling new business ideas. In addition, Innovate UK will run more innovation programmes and competitions in partnership with other government bodies and organisations.

Track record

Since 2007 Innovate UK has invested around £1.8bn in innovation, which has been more than matched by the private sector – returning between £11.5bn and £13.1bn to the economy. It has supported innovation in 7,600 organisations, creating around 55,000 new jobs; more than 7 for each company with which it has worked.

High-level goals:

Across the sector groups, Innovate UK has set out 5 high-level goals that will ensure a focus on driving productivity growth. It will:

  • Turn scientific excellence into economic impact and deliver results through innovation, in collaboration with the research community and government;
  • Accelerate UK economic growth by nurturing high-growth potential SMEs in key market sectors, helping them to become high-growth mid-sized companies with strong productivity and export success;
  • Build on innovation excellence throughout the UK, investing locally in areas of strength
  • Develop Catapult centres within a national innovation network to provide access to cutting-edge technologies, encourage inward investment and enable technical advances in existing businesses;
  • Evolve its funding models, ensuring businesses with which it works get the right kind of funding at the right time and helping public money go further and work harder.