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The Innovators’ Breakfast Club

Image adapted from photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

UPDATE: Series 2 Begins on Wednesday 30th September (Please note that these events are only open to UKRI, Innovation Caucus and Enterprise Research Centre staff). Please contact Phil Wallace ( for details. 

Over the summer Innovate UK, the Innovation Caucus and the Enterprise Research Centre joined forces to create the ‘Innovators’ Breakfast Club’. Bright and early each Wednesday morning for 5 weeks, staff from across Innovate UK and UKRI arrived coffee-in-hand to participate in an engaging discussion with colleagues and social science experts. Innovation Caucus members enjoyed contributing expert insights and the latest evidence in lively discussions each week, providing food for thought as Innovate UK develop their new strategy. 

Topics like ‘Foreign Direct Investment’ might seem too heavy to tackle while you’re still finishing off your toast, but over 50 people logged in each week, filling the chat box with insights and intelligent questions. Each event began with an outline of that week’s strategic theme presented by an Innovate UK / UKRI colleague with a level of responsibility for that area. These opening thoughts, often covering the existing work programmes and the emerging vision for the future, were followed by 2-3 of what we like to term ‘provocations’ provided by Innovation Caucus and ERC academic members (and invited guests). Provocations are short and punchy presentations, which prompt and probe at the key areas – bringing research insights to bear on key issues without getting too bogged down in the detail (the academic references can always be provided in follow-up discussions, or indeed dropped in the chat box!). Each session culminated in a panel discussion chaired by Professor Tim Vorley (Academic Lead of the Innovation Caucus), drawing on participants’ own questions and insights. 

We hope that participants found the series to be an engaging and accessible exploration of (some of) the key strategic issues around innovation that UKRI are working on, seen through the lens of social science. 

Thank you to all of the contributors, whether in the chat box or giving a presentation (full list below). A special thank you to Debbie Johnson, Dr Geeta Nathan (Innovate UK) and Dr Vicki Belt (ERC) for bringing the series to life:

Diffusion and Adoption (22.07.20)

  • Dr David Wilkes (Innovate UK)
  • Professor Stephen Roper (Enterprise Research Centre)
  • Professor Philip Shapira (Innovation Caucus)

Commercialisation and Cooperation (29.07.20)

  • Dr Tony Soteriou (UKRI)
  • Dr Kristel Miller (Innovation Caucus)
  • Professor Markus Perkmann (Imperial College London)

Scale-ups (05.08.20)

  • Maxine Adam (Innovate UK)
  • Professor Mark Hart (ERC)
  •  Dr Norin Arshed (Innovation Caucus)

Sustainability and Societal Impact (12.08.20)

  • Paul Mason (Innovate UK)
  • Debbie Johnson (Innovate UK)
  • Professor Will Green (Innovation Caucus)
  • Lee Hopley (ERC)

Foreign Direct Investment (19.08.20)

  • Dr Geeta Nathan (Innovate UK)
  • Professor Nigel Driffield (ERC)
  • Professor Richard Harris (Productivity Insights Network)