By Max Clarke
The Science and Technology Select Committee today published their second Technology and Innovation Centres Report , detailing the execution of the government’s £200 million network of technology centres.
The centres are intended to serve as hubs for fostering an elite network of innovation for small and big businesses, acting both as catalyst for private sector recovery and as a focus for continued innovation in tech companies.
“Innovation is a key driver of growth. Our plan for a network of elite Technology and Innovation Centres will target those areas that will have the greatest impact on growth and can benefit most from this new form of investment” commented Minister for Universities and Science, David Willets,
The £200 million centres are to be funded with a 1:1:1 mixture of public, competitive public/ private, and private funding; as trialled with great success in Germany for the Fraunhofer Institutes.
Andrew Miller MP, Chair Science and Technology Select Committee, said:
"It is important that TICs work with businesses of all sizes. We hope that small companies get involved and that this will strengthen their financial base and increase lenders’ and financiers’ confidence in their commercial prospects."
Discussing the 132 page report, published this morning, is Tim Bradshaw, Head of Enterprise and Innovation at the CBI.
“We welcome this report and the commitment to identify those existing centres in the UK that will become Technology and Innovation Centres. This will mean that existing resources are fully mobilised, will avoid duplication, and deliver maximum benefit for the economy.
“It’s right to take a sectoral-led approach when deciding how these systems will work, but the hub-and-spoke model is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The appropriate model must be decided through an industry-led consultation within each sector.
“It’s important to concentrate resources and funding on a limited number of technology and innovation centres, so as not to overstretch the £200m budget. The Technology Strategy Board should consider the lower number of six centres, ensuring each has the critical mass to be effective.
“We support the call for long-term funding for Technology and Innovation Centres and for this to come from a range of streams, but the one-third cap on funding from the private sector is too rigid. Opening up the possibility of more funding from the private sector, to constitute 25-55% of the total, will drive greater innovation and growth.”