Meeting the Innovation Challenge
Edited by John Bessant and Tim Venables
Chapter 6: Evolution of UK Government Support for Innovation
Tim Minshall INTRODUCTION The aim of this chapter is to summarize the main stages in the evolution of the UK government’s support for innovation in the period 1945 to mid2007. The UK government’s view of the role of innovation within the UK’s economic performance has been based on the perceived impact of innovation upon productivity. For HM Treasury, ‘productivity growth relies on a continual stream of inventions and innovations of both new technologies and improved working practices’ (HM Treasury 2000: 12). For the DTI: ‘In the past, many UK-based businesses have prospered even when selling in low value markets, but today British industry faces a new challenge: how to raise its rate of innovation?’ (DTI 2003: 8). The perception of the role of innovation in relation to the performance of the UK economy (and the consequent attitudes of successive governments) has passed through a series of clear phases since the 1950s (see Figure 6.1). A description of each of these phases and examples of government policies to support the diﬀerent needs is given in the following sections. 1945–1960S: REBUILDING THE ECONOMY In the immediate post-Second World War years, the UK economy faced huge challenges in recovering from the extreme short-term demands that had been placed upon industry, together with a lack of investment. This was coupled with the UK facing the ‘end of Empire’ and needing to reposition itself as an economy operating in a world very diﬀerent from that which existed before the Second World...
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