Technology Innovation Centres: applying the Fraunhofer model to create an effective Innovation Ecosystem in the UK

Technology Innovation Centres: applying the Fraunhofer model to create an effective Innovation Ecosystem in the UK
Document type
Reid, Benjamin; Sissons, Andrew; Brinkley, Ian
Work Foundation, The
Date of publication
1 December 2010
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Business and management
Material type

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This paper provides evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on the implementation of an elite network of Technology Innovation Centres (TICs). Since 2005, The Work Foundation has been researching how progress towards the knowledge economy is reshaping the economic life of all advanced economies, and the UK in particular. This change is creating a special need for a network of intermediary institutions which can better link research institutes with each other, and with businesses. Technology Innovation Centres must be a central part of this network. In the knowledge economy, growth and job creation depend on our ability to generate and exploit intangible assets such as brands, human capital, and design. Here, innovation is the primary driver of value. This depends on the innovation eco-system: the set of organisations, institutions and linkages through which the economy creates new value in the form of products and services. All innovations draw on the basic building blocks of knowledge creation, entrepreneurship, selection (of potential innovations, typically through markets) and the mobilisation of resources. The system relies on a network of intermediary institutions which can link and support the transfer of knowledge between these blocks. The analysis highlights a major UK deficiency: a weak and fragmented system of research institutions that lacks the scale, coordination and commercial focus required to fully exploit the value of the UK’s knowledge and creativity. There is, therefore, clear scope to draw on the experience of the German Fraunhofer Network to build a new class of institutions which can respond to this need. The evidence on how this must be realised is presented in two main sections below:

  1. Understanding the Fraunhofer model and how it should be applied in the UK – this section addresses questions one to three outlined in the call for evidence;
  2. The need to position TICs within an effective UK Innovation Eco-system – this section addresses questions four and five of the Committee's inquiry.

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