The UK government is determined to position itself as a global innovation hub by 2035.

COVID-19 has shaken the global economy, forcing businesses, institutions, and governments to re-examine their existing and future growth strategies. With the pandemic disruptions and unprecedented challenges that have irreversibly changed the world, predictably, innovation and technology are anticipated to enable organisations and nations to thrive in the new world.

The UK is one of the G8 countries that recognises the significant role of innovation to drive resiliency amidst today’s pressing challenges including climate change, unemployment, and global pandemics, among many others. Underpinned by the objective to make the UK a global science superpower and a global hub for innovation by 2035, the UK Innovation Strategy was launched.

As shared in the Secretary of State’s foreword:

“This UK-wide Innovation Strategy sets out our long-term plan for delivering innovation-led growth. Its primary objective is to boost private sector investment across the whole of the UK, creating the right conditions for all businesses to innovate and giving them the confidence to do so. We will also show direct leadership and action – such as through new missions and backing technologies of the future – clearly signalling where the Government will focus in the future.”

For international students considering the UK to be their study destination, knowing that the nation has a long-term plan for strategic growth is encouraging.

Four Key Pillars

The UK Innovation strategy is tethered on four key pillars:

Pillar 1: Unleashing Business – We will fuel businesses that want to innovate. This key action includes billion pounds investments in R&D and UK life science companies.

Pillar 2: People – We will make the UK the most exciting place for innovation talent. This involves the introduction of new High Potential Individual and Scale-up visa routes as well as creating new initiatives for the Innovator route to attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent.

Pillar 3: Institutions & Places – We will ensure our research, development and innovation institutions serve the needs of businesses and places across the UK. This key action includes allocating millions of pounds to drive local growth across the UK through R&D and accelerate economic growth through university-business innovation.

Pillar 4: Missions & Technologies – We will stimulate innovation to tackle major challenges faced by the UK and the world and drive capability in key technologies. This key principle includes creating an Innovation Missions programme and new Prosperity Partnerships to establish business-led research projects to develop transformational new technologies.

Of the four pillars of the UK Innovation Strategy, Pillar 3 involves investment in the education sector. The Policy Paper stated that the government recognises the significant role of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) in championing unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities, and businesses. It stated:

“They provide tailored higher technical education and training in key STEM sectors, such as digital, construction, advanced manufacturing, and engineering, to respond to the needs of business in the local area. UK Government is investing up to £290 million to establish a comprehensive network of IoTs across England. They will establish relationships with other key providers of technical skills in the wider education system, such as University Technical Colleges so that there are clear progression pathways for students to support them.”

In addition, the UK government also created reforms to ensure that businesses and learning institutions can collaborate to identify and target skills gaps such as the Skills Accelerator launched in England by the Department for Education (DfE).