The Role of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London SW1H0AD

Tuesday 5th December 2017, 11:45am-2:00pm

Confirmed Speakers

David Connell – Leader of the SBRI Review commissioned by the UK Government 

The Role of Lead Customer Innovation Contracts and the SBRI in Industrial Strategy David Connell will argue that contrary to the implicit view that new science and technology-based companies are the result of university spinouts based on academic research with backing from venture capital firms, funded development contracts to meet customer needs have been at least as important in the early stages of the UK’s most successful new STEM based companies. US innovation policy is largely structured around Federal R&D contracts with companies, with the $2.5 billion Small Business Innovation Research programme, the most visible. Government attempts to introduce a UK version of SBIR started in 2000, but a functioning UK SBRI programme did not get underway until 2009. David will discuss the role of lead customer contracts in growing new STEM based companies and contrast the US and UK models. He will examine what the UK SBRI has achieved to date and summarise the key challenges to be addressed to make it more effective across government.

Richard Kirk – Chief Executive, PolyPhotonix

Where UK innovation funding fails Richard Kirk will argue that UK SMEs often feel like there are two ‘Valleys of Death’, one within the natural cycle of building a business and another created by the UK innovation funding and public procurement programmes. In his talk, Richard will address some of the challenges facing innovative small firms including issues related to commercialisation of new products/services whose development is funded by the SBRI.

Dr Kostas Selviaridis – Lecturer, Centre for Productivity and Efficiency, Lancaster University Management School

Public procurement of R&D in the UK: Is there alignment between policy and practice? In his sum up talk, Kostas will critically examine whether pre-commercial procurement processes and practices as implemented ‘on the ground’ are aligned with policy aims and ambitions in this area. He will argue that despite the SBRI’s positive contribution to small firms and public organisations participating in the scheme, there are still challenges impeding alignment between policy and practice. These go beyond financial issues and relate to behavioural, institutional and even regulatory aspects that need to be considered by policymakers to increase the effectiveness of the SBRI.

Stimulating Innovation through Public Procurement: The Role of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) offers a connection between the challenges faced by the public sector and innovative thinking within industry. The important role of the SBRI in addressing the unmet needs of the public sector and supporting the growth of innovative small firms has been stressed in both policy and academic circles, but existing evidence suggests that its full potential has yet to be realised and the SBRI scheme is currently under review by the UK Government to identify ways to scale it up and amplify its impact.

As part of the Work Foundation’s Autumn Event Series in partnership with the Centre for Productivity and Efficiency at Lancaster University Management School, David Connell, Richard Kirk and Dr Kostas Selviaridis will critically examine the role and effectiveness of the SBRI. Providing insights into the current state of SBRI implementation across the UK public sector, key achievements, and related challenges facing SMEs and public organisations the speakers will identify improvements to unleash the full potential of the SBRI.

Following presentations, we will open up the debate, providing the opportunity for you to interact with speakers and other delegates via a Q&A session.

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