Future of Innovation Funding Call image

Future of Innovation Funding Call

‘This is a really exciting opportunity to explore themes that have emerged from other Caucus projects, which have the potential to create thought leadership for Innovate UK’
Debbie Johnson, Innovate UK

‘This is a great opportunity for innovation and social science researchers to influence the priorities of Innovate UK’
Tim Vorley, Innovation Caucus

We’re excited to be able to work with Innovate UK to fund up to 4 state of the art thought leadership projects that draw on academic insights (and primary research, if applicable) to provide new insights in one of three broad areas:  design, social capital and green growth.  The Innovation Caucus is offering funding of up to £10,000 for a suitable project led by a Caucus member.  Deadline for applications is Monday 11 April, 5pm.  

There will be an online Q&A session to cover any questions that you may have about the Future of Innovation Funding Call on 31 March at 2pm.  (Join Zoom Meeting)

Future of Innovation Funding Call:

Innovate UK is looking for thought leadership projects that will provide insights for business and policy making in these three key areas:

  1. Design – We invite projects exploring the benefits of design tools and processes in realizing stronger innovation outcomes for businesses, and potential implications for future innovation policy and programmes.
  2. Social Capital – We invite projects exploring the relationships between social capital and innovation, and the implications for policy and programmes to support innovators and innovative businesses.
  3. Green Growth – We are inviting projects to explore the future of green innovation collaborations and implications for the circular economy, identifying new future pathways for greening and the role of different policies in relation to the UK innovation system.

Intended outputs: These should include a c.10 slide presentation to ESRC/Innovate UK, a report (c.25 pages), and an executive summary (5 pages). 

Submission Process:  

Please complete and send to info@innovationcaucus.co.uk the proposal form: IC Funding Call Application Form March 2022

Completed proposal forms should be emailed to info@innovationcaucus.co.uk using the subject heading ‘Funding proposal – Future of Innovation’. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Monday 11th April 2022

Eligible Costs

  • Project costs (cost of travel, accommodation and subsistence)
  • Networking/event costs
  • Teaching or research buy-out 
  • Research assistance
  • Consumables 

Any other costs including but not limited to the below are ineligible costs (please email Laura at ldegenhardt@brookes.ac.uk to check if unsure):

  • Institutional overheads/work space
  • Additional salary payment to the researchers or personal maintenance
  • Equipment (inc but not limited to computing, recording equipment etc.)

Selection Process:

A selection panel, which will include the Principal Investigator for the Innovation Caucus and the project lead(s) for Innovate UK and/or ESRC, will meet to agree the preferred proposal, based on the following criteria:

  • Relevant expertise of lead applicants and other researchers
  • How well proposals meet the project brief
  • Value for money
  • Feasibility of project plans.

A final specification for the project will be agreed with the successful applicant(s).  We will aim to let you know the outcome of the selection by the end of April.

If you have any questions please contact info@innovationcaucus.co.uk or ldegenhardt@brookes.ac.uk

 

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The Innovators’ Breakfast Club – Series 4 image

The Innovators’ Breakfast Club – Series 4

The Innovation Caucus was delighted to host a fourth series of the ‘Innovators’ Breakfast Club’, bringing together leading social scientists and Innovate UK/UKRI staff to discuss prominent issues in the UK innovation landscape. 

It was great to see a lot of new faces from across UKRI join us for another set of engaging discussions. This series, we had a record turnout of over 100 attendees at a session where CEO of Innovate UK, Indro Mukerjee, was present.  Each session begins with an Innovate UK staff member setting out the context on the week’s topic, followed by 2 or 3 short ‘provocations’ from Innovation Caucus members or special guests, invited for their social science expertise. Speakers’ short inputs are designed to stimulate thinking and actionable insights drawn from social science research. The focal point of each event is always the lively audience discussion and Q & A with panellists.

We would like to thank all of our speakers (listed below) for their work in preparing and delivering insightful talks, Debbie Johnson and Dr Geeta Nathan (Innovate UK)  for their work in bringing this latest series together, and also Dr Vicki Belt (Enterprise Research Centre) for valuable expert speaker recommendations. Thanks also to participants for filling in the series evaluation form and providing plenty of ideas for future consideration – watch this space!

Innovator’s Breakfast Club: Series 4 – Thanks to all of our speakers!

Networks (7.01.22)

This session discussed the importance of networks and networking in supporting innovation and business growth: how to strengthen innovation networks in the UK, and furthering understanding of how, in a post-covid world, to support networks and capacity building. 

  • Dr Alicia Greated (Knowledge Transfer Network/KTN) 
  • Dr Ben Spigel, Innovation Caucus (University of Edinburgh Business School)
  • Dr Sarah Otner, Innovation Caucus (Kingston University London)

 

Infrastructure (14.01.22)

This session advanced the discussion about the importance of the innovation infrastructure in the UK to support the future growth and competitiveness of firms. With key assets, such as Catapults, and facilities such as those at Harwell and Daresbury, there remains a focus by Innovate UK on future needs in terms of developing innovation assets and their role in the innovation ecosystem. 

  • Dr Dave Wilkes (Innovate UK, Director of Place, Centres and Networks)
  • Professor Jill MacBryde (University of Strathclyde)
  • Dr Muthu De Silva (Birkbeck, University of London)


Early Stage Investment (21.01.22)

This session sought insight from academics about how to support deep tech to improve Innovate UK’s role as an advocate of early stage investment in the UK.

  • Esra Kasapoglu (Innovate UK, Responsible Innovation, Inclusive Society, and Sustainable Economy for building the Digital UK)
  • Professor Stephen Roper (Warwick Business School)
  • Professor Ramana Nanda  (Imperial College London)

 

Sustainable Investment (28.01.22)

This session discussed ways of ensuring innovation investment and reflected on its impact on sustainability. Innovate UK were interested to hear insights from academics to inform how better to support UK businesses presenting their contribution in this area. 

  • Ian Meikle (Innovate UK, Director of Clean Growth and Infrastructure)
  • Dr Anna Valero (London School of Economics)
  • Professor Ian Docherty, Innovation Caucus (University of Stirling)

 

Levelling Up and Place (4.02.22)

Session highlighting the importance of considering place in the levelling up agenda

  • Dean Cook  (Innovate UK, Head of Regional Engagement) 
  • Professor Elvira Uyarra, Innovation Caucus (University of Manchester)
  • Robert Huggins, Innovation Caucus (Cardiff University)

 

Reflections (11.02.22)

Session looking at next steps to Innovate UK’s innovation strategy and agenda

  • Geeta Nathan (Innovate UK, Head of Economics and Insights) 
  • Rob Shaw (UKRI, Innovate UK Chief of Staff) 
  • Shahid Omer (UKRI, Deputy Director-Innovation Strategy at BEIS) 
  • Pippa Sharma (UKRI, Deputy Director for Technology Transfer at BEIS)
  • Professor Tim Vorley, Innovation Caucus (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Professor Stephen Roper (Warwick Business School

 

Featured image adapted from a photo by Syed Hussaini on Unsplash

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NEW REPORT: Social Investment Partnerships

The Innovation Caucus has been conducting research into the field of social investment in partnership with ESRC and Innovate UK. The research explored the current social investment market and potential avenues for expansion in the market. 19 qualitative interviews were conducted with a range of social investment stakeholders including representatives from social investors, ‘traditional’ investors, recipients of social investment and universities involved in social investment.

The report was prepared by Dr Lauren Tuckerman and Professor Tim Vorley at the Innovation Caucus.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Key Findings

Different stakeholders interviewed interpreted the central concept of social investment differently. For example, social investors were very clear about the definitions of social investment whereas traditional investors and those in support organisations for traditional business were less able to succinctly define social investment.

It is important that any new social investment funds are flexible in their approach both towards types of organisations eligible to apply, and using broad social missions to attract investors and investees. Often the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were discussed as a key framework on which to base broad social missions.

Alignment of values and social mission was discussed as a means to counter challenges of language and culture when working across sectors. Although some interviewees acknowledged that there were cultural and language barriers between recipients of social investment, and traditional investors, they were positive about the ability to overcome this challenge with alignment of values and social mission.

Opportunities for future development included in the report are identified as:

  • In supporting Social Investment Partnerships, there is merit in the ESRC and Innovate UK (as well as UKRI more widely) identifying the high-level priorities in order to give a focus to prospective applicants.
  • Any support for future Social Investment Partnerships programmes needs to have a clear social, societal and or environmental challenge or need.
  • There are opportunities to promote equality, diversity and inclusion through Social Investment Partnerships programmes. There is scope to engage a broader range of prospective investee groups which are likely to go beyond those attracting investment from traditional sources.
  • Any future plans for Social Investment Partnerships that seek to support social enterprise or social ventures need to ensure direct consultation with a cohort of social entrepreneurs and social investors, and have them represented on a steering/ advisory group.
  • There is an opportunity as a part of any future Social Investment Partnerships to promote partnership and collaboration with existing infrastructures and stakeholders to maximise the value added though projects (i.e. social entrepreneurs, universities, local authorities, trusts, charities and social investment management firms).
  • The focus on realising economic return, financial instruments and exit strategies need to be flexible in investment accelerators to allow impact businesses to gain the most from investment.
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NEW REPORT: Rethinking the Role of Further Education Colleges in Innovation Ecosystems

As we focus efforts to increase the UK’s innovation activity, what is the role of further education colleges (FECs) in increasing business innovation? To explore this, Innovate UK commissioned the Innovation Caucus in partnership with:

  • Gatsby Foundation
  • Department for Education
  • BEIS.

The ‘rethinking the role of FECs in innovation’ report  was published this month. It explores the ways in which FECs are developing their offer to support businesses to innovate alongside their established role as education providers.

For a brief overview of the reports findings and next steps, see the new Innovate UK blog by Debbie Johnson (Lead Specialist for Research, Innovate UK) Tim Vorley (Convenor of the Innovation Caucus).

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The Innovators’ Breakfast Club – Series 3 image

The Innovators’ Breakfast Club – Series 3

The Innovation Caucus was delighted to host a third series of the ‘Innovators’ Breakfast Club’, bringing together leading social scientists and Innovate UK/UKRI staff to discuss prominent issues in the UK innovation landscape.

It was great to see a lot of new faces from across UKRI join us for another set of engaging discussions. Each session begins with an Innovate UK staff member setting out the context on the week’s topic, followed by 2 or 3 short ‘provocations’ from Innovation Caucus members or special guests, invited for their social science expertise. Speakers’ short inputs are designed to stimulate thinking and actionable insights drawn from social science research. The focal point of each event is always the lively audience discussion and Q & A with panellists.

We would like to thank all of our speakers (listed below) for their work in preparing and delivering insightful talks,  Debbie Johnson and Dr Geeta Nathan (Innovate UK)  for their work in bringing this latest series together, and also Dr Vicki Belt (Enterprise Research Centre) for valuable expert speaker recommendations. Thanks also to participants for filling in the series evaluation form and providing plenty of ideas for future consideration – watch this space!

Innovator’s Breakfast Club: Series 3 – Thanks to all of our speakers!

Disruptive Innovation (21.04.21)

  • Simone Boekelaar (Innovate UK)
  • Professor Jonathan Sapsed (Newcastle University)
  • Professor Irene Ng (University of Warwick)

Business Model Innovation (28.04.21)

  • Nigel Walker (Innovate UK)
  • Dr Panos Desyllas (University of Bath)
  • Dr Yang Zhao (Loughborough University London)

Agility & Experimentations (05.05.21)

  • Simon Edmonds (Innovate UK)
  • Dr Eszter Czibor (Nesta)
  • Professor Bruce Tether (University of Manchester)

Connecting Innovation Ecosystems (12.05.21)

  • Dan Hodges (Innovate UK)
  • Professor Kiran Fernandes (Durham University)
  • Dr Karen Bonner (University of Ulster)
  • Professor Rick Delbridge (Cardiff University)

Missions (19.05.21)

  • Mike Biddle (Innovate UK)
  • Dr Kieron Flanagan (University of Manchester)
  • Professor Kevin Morgan (Cardiff University)

Featured image adapted from a photo by Syed Hussaini on Unsplash

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New Video: Rethinking the Role of Further Education Colleges in Innovation Ecosystems image

New Video: Rethinking the Role of Further Education Colleges in Innovation Ecosystems

Professor Tim Vorley (Academic Lead of the Innovation Caucus) was pleased to join a recent Association of Colleges webinar, supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Productivity Institute, to share some of our ongoing work looking at the role of FECs in the the Innovation Ecosystem.

What can colleges, as anchor institutions in their respective places,  do as part of the innovation ecosystem? Our work with Innovate UK and Gatsby looks at the important role of FECs and goes above and beyond skills development.

About the Innovation Caucus:

The Innovation Caucus supports sustainable innovation-led growth by promoting engagement between the social sciences and the innovation ecosystem. Our members are leading academics from across the social science community, who are engaged in different aspects of innovation research. We connect the social sciences, Innovate UK and the ESRC, by providing research insights to inform innovation policy and practice. We champion the role of social science in innovation and enhance its impact. Professor Tim Vorley is the Academic Lead. The initiative is funded and co-developed by the ESRC and Innovate UK. The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the funders

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New report: Assessing the Impact of Covid-19 on Innovate UK Award Holders – February 2021 image

New report: Assessing the Impact of Covid-19 on Innovate UK Award Holders – February 2021

Today the Innovation Caucus and the Enterprise Research Centre published their third in a series of benchmark reports on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Innovate UK award holders.

Analysis was based on an on-line survey of 274 IUK award holders conducted between 1st February and 25th February 2021 and 21 in-depth interviews which were undertaken over the same period. The report was commissioned by Innovate UK.

This Insights Paper was prepared by Stephen Roper (Enterprise Research Centre and University of Warwick), Tim Vorley (Innovation Caucus and Oxford Brookes University) and Jen Nelles (Innovation Caucus and University of Sheffield).

Download the Wave 3 report here.

Headline Summary

In February 2021 firms were marginally more optimistic about the outlook than in October 2020. However, firms are still experiencing significant challenges constraining their abilities to engage in innovation and complete projects on time, potentially with longer term implications for the innovative capacity of the economy.

Firms are experiencing continued disruption through the lockdown particularly to cash flow, business development and the ability to network with other companies. Cash flow remains critical for about 1:5 companies. This is a slight worsening of the situation from the previous period when around 1:6 companies reported cash flow being critical. Most firms were aiming to reduce costs in order to cope.

R&D investment patterns vary significantly between firms with some firms rebounding, some in a holding pattern with stable levels of investment and some firms continuing to pull back from investing in R&D and innovation. 62.7% still classify their R&D capacity as “disrupted”, indicating that despite these upticks many firms are still not back to normal capacity.

You can also read the Wave 2 report here (October – November 2020) and the Wave 1 report here (June – July 2020).

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Future Flight Research Director  – Town Hall Event image

Future Flight Research Director – Town Hall Event

ISCF Future Flight Research Director Call –Now open

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is pleased to announce that the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Future Flight Research Director call is now open.

The Research Director will help the Future Flight Challenge and wider aviation sector to identify areas where economic and social science research can make a significant contribution. A key aim of the role will be to support the creation of a multidisciplinary community, linking stakeholders, researchers and businesses to identify and tackle challenges associated with Future Flight. You can watch a video below from an online briefing event for potential applicants which was hosted by the Innovation Caucus on 17th March.

The call will provide £190,000 (100% fEC) of funding for 12 months.

Proposals must be submitted by 16:00 22 April 2021. All proposals to this opportunity must be from a researcher based at an eligible UK research organisation.

For further details please visit: https://www.ukri.org/opportunity/iscf-future-flight-research-director-2021/

Featured image adapted from photo by Sam Schooler on Unsplash.

 

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Wave 2 Report – Assessing the impact of Covid-19 on Innovate UK award holders image

Wave 2 Report – Assessing the impact of Covid-19 on Innovate UK award holders

Today the Innovation Caucus and the Enterprise Research Centre published Wave 2 of their joint report commissioned by Innovate UK into how supported businesses have weathered the pandemic.

This Insights Paper was prepared by Stephen Roper (Enterprise Research Centre and University of Warwick), Tim Vorley (Innovation Caucus and Oxford Brookes University) and Jen Nelles (Innovation Caucus and University of Sheffield).

Download the Wave 2 report here. The Wave 1 report can be found here.

Stephen Roper, ERC Director and co-author, has also written a short blog reflecting on the key findings.

Headline Summary

Trend and outlooks in October/November 2020

  • R&D and innovation activities remained critical to many firms – Particularly to small and micro firms who reported increased significance of R&D activities at greater numbers than the previous period. A fifth of all firms planned to increase R&D and innovation investment by at least 10 per cent over the next three months (up from 1:13 in the Wave 1 survey). Overall, R&D is seen as “crucial to survival” (in the words of one respondent) but firms vary in projected timelines to increase investment in this area.
  • Disruptions to R&D were decreasing – although firms still reported significant disruptions due to cash flow, networking, and business development. In this survey period (October), 31% fewer firms cited R&D disruptions, while 50% fewer firms reported that they had stopped all R&D activity, and 42% fewer firms reported that they were re-tasking R&D personnel to essential functions.
  • Business revenues were rebounding slightly – The proportion of businesses reporting a reduction in revenues over the last 3 months in October was 58.1% down from 69.7% in the preceding period. A small number, 9.1% (1:11), of firms increased their revenues, a threefold increase compared to June 2020 (3% or 1:33). However, about the same number of firms (1:3) had their revenues halved or reduced to zero, with a slight decrease from 36% to 30%.
  • Cash flow concerns were decreasing for some firms – 11% (1:9) firms experienced positive cashflow in October 2020, a 250% increase from June 2020 (4%) and fewer firms (1:6) described their liquidity as ‘critical’ compared to the previous period (1:5), with 2:3 firms reducing costs to manage liquidity challenges.
  • Business rates relief has yielded some benefits – 1:4 firms benefited from business rates relief, four times more than in June 2020 (6% or 1:17), which was the most commonly utilised measure to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
  • Collaboration rates are beginning to increase overall – Levels of collaboration with suppliers, clients/customers from the private sector, clients/customers from the public sector, and government or public research institutes had increased compared to the previous period. However, there are some worrying trends in R&D collaboration with universities and R&D institutes.
  • More businesses plan to use grants – 1:8 firms planned to utilise the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 over the next three months (almost double from the 1:15 in the Wave 1 survey).

 

Areas of current and future concern in October/November 2020

  • Supply chain and demand volatility is increasing – 2:3 firms experienced changes in customer orders in October 2020, a 19% increase compared to June 2020; the majority reduced or delayed orders but more (1:4) cancelled compared to June 2020 (1:5). There was an increase in those cancelling as opposed to reducing or delaying orders.
  • A small number of firms continue to reduce R&D spending – Around 1:8 firms planned to reduce R&D and innovation investment by more than 50 per cent over the next three months (down from 1:4 in the Wave 1 survey).
  • Cashflow remains a problem for many firms – Although fewer firms described their financial status in precarious terms, 2:3 firms reported their cash flow as “under pressure”. Firms expected this to be a persistent problem over the short term. About a quarter of firms projected a fall in revenues of over 50 per cent over the next three months (down from 1:3 in the Wave 1 survey). Only a fraction of that (1:8) project an increase in revenues (up from 1:21 in the Wave 1 survey).
  • Collaboration with R&D intensive institutions decreased – More firms reported that collaboration with other businesses within their own enterprise group (1:4) and consultants, commercial labs or private R&D institutes (1:3) has fallen compared to June 2020. While 1:3 have reduced their collaboration with universities, 1:4 have increased their collaboration, an increase from 1:7 in June 2020.
  • Collaboration with universities has decreased substantially – Around 2:3 firms were collaborating with universities prior to the pandemic. 1:5 of these firms had reduced spend on collaboration by more than 25 per cent. 1:7 reduced their spending with universities by more than 50 per cent, a 38% increase from June 2020.

 

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Business Model Innovation Toolkit

Hot off the press, a new supply of Business Model Innovation Toolkit has arrived!

Over the past couple of years the notion of ‘business model innovation’ has become increasingly popular.

While many businesses think about innovation in terms of their products, processes and services, business model innovation is about creating and capturing value from different aspects of the business model.

Our Business Model Innovation Toolkit helps businesses to identify what services your customers and end users value and how and why the customer pays for your product, process or service.  Explore how well you can explain your business model in terms of the offering (i.e. product/process/service), experience (i.e. how you engage with the customer) and configuration (how the business operates) through this helpful set of cards.

If you would like one of our Business Model Innovation Toolkits, please drop us an email at info@innovationcaucus.co.uk.

Picture of the individual business model cards

 

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