back to article UK gov unveils 'Innovation Nation' plans

Today the new Brownite gov Departments of Innovation, Universities, Skills, Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform have announced sweeping new plans to make the UK rich and powerful. The UK needs to be rich and powerful, not just for fun, but so that it can "tackle major challenges like climate change". We will be made …


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  1. Mike Richards

    There should have been a warning at the top of that article

    I think it approached a critical mass of business buzzwords.

    My mind is bleeding and I still have no idea what they're planning. Does this mean I'll have to be culled?

    And how the fsck does this fit in with John Denham's bright idea to kill funding for second degrees - precisely the thing needed if people are going to be re-trained as porters on the innovation platform?

  2. Matthew
    Thumb Up


    "innovation motivation stimulation to the nation" - genius!

    How long did that take to come up with?

  3. John A Blackley

    A perfect opportunity for innovation

    Please help me take advantage of the new innovation opportunities.

    I have several ideas on how the long-suffering British public can rid itself of a government without having to wait half a decade for a general election.

    These ideas would be put to use when said government was bankrupt of ideas, achieving nothing except reducing the disposable income of the working British public and creating nothing and instead recycling trash notions in different wrappers.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Office of the Third Sector?

    Worryingly, the first thing that came into my head when I saw that phrase was "Office of the Third Reich"...

  5. Louise Tolman


    They could have come up with something more innovative than "innovation nation" - the BBC used it in 2003 for some tedious drivel or other and there's at least three books of that title.

    Basically what it seems to be saying is that although there is a massive amount of innovatory talent mooching round the UK at the moment, they are not innovative enough to go online or (heaven forfend) pick up a Yellow Pages to see whether there's anyone locally under "Knowledge Base Institutions" that they could hook up with.

    Being a girl, though, I admit to being all agog to see what the talent harnesses look like, and what colour they are.

    For Christ's sake, if this is what our taxes are being spent on, no wonder we're on a par with Hungary and Pakistan.

    PS Time for an icon refresh I think.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    @ Despair

    You appear to be the kind of innovative thinker they are looking for, why not design your own talent harness, perhaps adding some sparkling sequins to tempt more girls to innovate :-)

    AC because I am a coward and dare not think of the comments from girls coming my way if they fail to see the smiley face and the joke alert icon :-)

  7. Richie M


    What planet are these people from?

    Jeez, to think this sort of "thinkers" are running this country :-(

    No wonder it's in such a state and emergrating seems more attractive each day.

    Mines the lifejacket thanks, oh will the last one out turn the lights off please.

  8. Spleen

    Five new Innovation Platforms - Innovation Vouchers

    When I read the first two items of that list, I thought it was satirical. I had to read on to find out the government was serious. As usual the government is trying to destroy satirists through obsolesence.

  9. Hugh Fiske
    Paris Hilton

    Innovation Nation

    It's also the name of a recent competition organised by the Daily Rant for the Ideal Home Exhibition. Some of the winners have been shown on tv this week and they included such technological wonders as a device to automatically dunk your biscuit in your tea and a ladies' shower unit featuring a carefully positioned protrusion to rest one's foot on when shaving one's leg. Is this the sort of thinking Gordon has in mind?

    Paris? Just because.

  10. Geoff Mackenzie

    Want an innovation nation?

    Reintroduce grants, fund science teaching and research and stop taxing everything that moves into the ground then. Just a thought.

  11. DavCrav Silver badge


    We indeed do need lots of new innovation now that the government has killed off British astronomy...

  12. Peter

    Dole (out) queue


    What is first required of course is the creation of more vast swathes of overlapping, job-creating, pension fund-consuming but totally unproductive agencies, to assess and administer and research and dole out this largesse to those deemed most deserving (criteria may vary from those normally considered of value to profit... or planet, in this case) by those who have never actually done any work in the real world.

    And the first things these must of course do is:

    a) Build a tower (with regional satellites)

    b) Create an empire

    c) Establish a well-stocked leadership structure (a board of all the talents)

    d) Set out clear targets, based more on process than result

    e) Match them with nice bonusses

    f) Make sure d) is met asap (with a massive comms expenditure, so make sure you have the COI and a v. expensive PR mob on speed dial), so e) goes to c)

    g) And make sure that - if there is any chance of things going the shape of a pear or some dozy media do fly a quick awkward headline for all of a day - it's all deniable and/or complicated and/or obscure enough that no one actually understands anything enough to try and stay with it all.

    Critically, and this is key, the government paymasters/meddlers setting all this up and running it by nod and wink must be somehow nothing to do with any of this.

    And then, if there is any money left over from the 'fund' the taxpayers are fronting in theory to actually DO something positive and proactive, you make sure you are very diligent in crushing any innovative spirit in possible applicants/beneficiaries by drowning them in mountains of pointless paperwork, bean-counter jargon and 'must-haves' (which all innovators love to do each day) so they stop even thinking of having good ideas and join the drones clocking off at 4.29pm.

    I tried once for an award that was something like 'The Creative Innovation Fund'.

    Didn't get it, so to learn for next time I pressed for why.

    The crux of the explanation was (now remember it was the... 'Creative'... Innovation'... Fund) that the concept was 'too left field' and 'had never been done before'.

    I forsee simply more of the same, and it seems they are now not even trying to rebadge it all anyway.


  13. Robert Moore

    Random thought

    I thought innovate was a 'bad' word now. Let us never forget:

  14. Fox

    So that's what happened to UK radio astronomy...

    Our lords and masters needed the money to fund yet another half witted publicity stunt.

    They've destroyed something truly innovative (so innovative that a pack of Luddites clearly couldn't comprehend it) and bought us a load of hot air instead. Nice one Mr Brown.

  15. Tom

    PR speaks louder than actions?

    Essentially, the government has a new plan for a policy regarding technology, specifically technology outside of the traditional areas where the private sector has excelled. I say excelled, but what I really mean is: companies can still earn a crust without relocating to the far east.

    It's a start, but a start needs a middle. Oh, and an end goal would be nice, too.

    Actually, I think that's the problem I have with the recent wave of government tech policy - they can't admit they've been doing it wrong all this time, so anything more decisive or visionary would look like they're changing their mind.

  16. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Use ur Imagination for AI BetaService ....... Rule 01 of 0

    "g) And make sure that - if there is any chance of things going the shape of a pear or some dozy media do fly a quick awkward headline for all of a day - it's all deniable and/or complicated and/or obscure enough that no one actually understands anything enough to try and stay with it all."


    I'm all for ITs Beautiful Confusion ....... Mentored Enlightenment. An Astute Colossal XXXXPerience under OE Enigma Protocols.

    Yes would be just Great for NINJAs ..... Networks InterNetworking JA.

    Rule 0 ..... Don't Abuse in Use AI BetaService

  17. Waldo

    D.O.I.U.S.B.E.R.R. - hmmmmmm coundown anyone?

    Departments of Innovation, Universities, Skills, Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform....

    Is the building still long enough for the department title sign?

    me thinks they need to innovate a new title.

    Seriously, When I started amanufacturing business I could not get a penny of aid.

    Why? I did not want enough cash!! Small business need funding at their level to innovate.. I know.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    re: Dole (out) queue

    You've a spooky grasp of the government sanctioned process of "Innovation" (which curiously rhymes with a word for something that makes you go blind, or so I'm told) - sure you're not actually from the cabinet office?

    I've seen local projects coming up with some snappy but meaningless title, bag 5 grand of 'special' central government funding for implementation, then spunk 2 grand odd of the money on a 'launch event' involving the attendance of some minister, necessary flunkies, the press and anyone else who can pass off an afternoon for the quaffing of free wine and quality catering as 'networking'. The remaining 3k then gets studiously whittled down with feasibility studies, H&S assessments, logo design and further exotic lunchtime nibbles before a press release is issued and the remaining 2 quid handed over to the worthy cause to use wisely. They will of course - in the interests of transparency - have to account for every penny.

    The country already leads the world in turning public money into free swill for silver tongued charlatans.

    Bill, in recognition of one London council's "why not Microsoft" IT purchasing policy.

  19. Danny Thompson

    If I thought this government had a sense of humour ....

    I would laugh, as the grand plan is obviously a very early 1st April joke.

    But then again, it is this government, and a sense of humour is something that they lack posession of.

    Time to dust off the emigration plans.

    Mine is the coat with the ticket to "anywhere other than here on this planet" in its pocket.

  20. James Anderson Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Two thoughts about this.

    While the UK is one of the easiest places in the world to set up a shell company for tax reasons, it is also one of the most difficult counties to set up a business which actually does something. Anyone foolish enough to try spends 150% of thier time filling in government forms, or, about 200% if your company requires any sort of vehicle.

    As far as science/technical education goes anyone advising a bright young scholar to follow a sceince based career does not have thier best interests at heart. A quick comparison of the salaries quoted in the job ads from New Sceintist versus Campaign or the Law Societies rag will tell you how much the UK values scientists.

  21. Chris Coles

    This paper does not provide a solution to the primary problem, lack of first stage funding.

    This is perhaps the start of a new period of thinking by government. Yes, there are far too many pages of repeated paragraphs and certainly the greater part of the paper is devoted to either large company or large government departmental thinking. But at the heart is the same old story that, decades on, has still not been addressed, the lack of funding at the £250,000 to £2 million level. None of the previous government strategies has succeeded to address this problem.

    But what surprised me more than anything was that the individual is not considered to play any real part in innovation. I quote: " Most new ideas do not come as a flash of inspiration to a lone genius inventor; they come from how people create, combine and share their ideas". This thinking goes right back to the 1960's when some bod made the exact same comment and, in my humble opinion, set the idea into stone that no single individual can succeed at innovation. I will put to one side the idea that we now read each others minds like ants and do not need to think as an individual, "we all thought of it at once sir" is surely something out of a communist user manual?

    There is nothing about competition; let alone the idea that the driver of innovation is to compete against any existing supplier. That omission shows that there is no understanding of the role of competition in society. But the greatest failure is there is no delivery of new capital on free enterprise terms to the start-up. The idea that a £3,000 voucher will somehow mean that, immediately afterwards, somehow, the capital to pay for all of these additional work OUTSIDE of the local university. I have taken this from "A Capital Spillway Trust":

    "I now turn to the particular difficulties presented to the individual inventor when they set out to create new jobs through the application of new thinking embedded in a patent application for a completely new product or process.

    But when we turn to inventions of what are completely new products, then we must allow for the time it takes for the full process of development of:

    1. the initial ideas, registration and procurement of patent protection,

    2. manufacture of initial prototype,

    3. design and manufacture of working first stage marketable models,

    4. professional evaluation of marketability,

    5. re-evaluation of design,

    6. world patent applications

    7. and subsequent office actions to secure the same,

    8. organising and evaluating a basic sales structure,

    9. final design for perceived market

    10. and ramping up production for the first sales,

    11. setting up and paying for the necessary advertising and marketing campaign

    12. and finally assembling the team of people that will serve to take up this challenge of a completely new product and taking it to market.

    This process takes many years and much investment to complete. For a full free enterprise marketplace to exist, this process must be completed outside of existing industry so that a fully competitive national industrial base is achieved and maintained. To do that you must have completely new businesses coming forward on a regular basis to compete with the existing suppliers to a market, any market. You must replace old businesses with new businesses and old technology with new technology. Defunct products beyond their initial lifespan must be replaced with the best you can turn out. You must have full and completely free competition.

    As things stand, the lone inventor is expected to either fund these costs themselves, which is effectively impossible or, to raise funds from a venture capital group that will marginalise them to gain complete control of the start up with the aim to sell on the resulting business to the largest business in that industry within three to five years or, again, the inventor will have to turn to an existing business to fund it. Thus from the outset, the inventor cannot build up a completely new competitive business. This is an important aspect as you therefore do not have a full and free marketplace and thus always, without change, existing customers, including governments, will never be able to see fully competitive supply to a free market."

    Sadly this paper does not address any of these first stages with any solution that overcomes their own perception of the first stage failure to provide funding. The £3,000 voucher is, quite frankly, a joke, (with the greatest of respects), as any innovator worth their salt already knows full well that the university is under funded, never has all their own internal research projects fully funded and has the same difficulties as the external innovator in sourcing those crucial first stage funds.

    They simply do not exist.

    As for the longer term funding of new industry. I ask the minister to go ask ANY "financial adviser" where anyone can get LONG TERM equity Capital. He will find it also does not exist.

    There is much to be done to bring the UK government up to speed with shortfalls that were identified decades ago. That is the primary problem to be overcome. This paper does not address those needs.

    Chris Coles.

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