Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined how government procurement can drive innovation, particularly from small businesses, in a recent speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Annual Conference.
The PM announced that this would form part of the review of the Small Businesses Research Initiative (SBRI) – an initiative supporting small businesses to secure a greater share of government contracts. The review, led by David Connell, an entrepreneur and researcher at Cambridge University will examine how to “increase its impact and give more innovators their first break”.
In terms of driving innovation in small businesses, May also stated the UK could follow the example of the US government in its use of strategic procurement, that “not only spurs innovation in the public sector, [but] gives new firms a foot in the door”.
She added: “In fact many of the technologies in your smartphone, from touchscreens to voice recognition, were originally commissioned not by Apple or Microsoft, but by the US government.”
Group CEO, CIPS, David Noble said this approach makes sense, with a dedicated office to provide overall procurement direction and support to SMEs. “This office has a high level of support, as the administrator is appointed by the President, so there is a mandate and a commitment to become more efficient and effective and trust the value procurement brings,” he said.
“Many of today’s global conglomerates started as small businesses that need the lifeblood of financing and in turn offer innovative and creative solutions that benefit us all. It’s an ambition for both I would like to see realised,” he added.
May also pledged a £2bn a year increase in science and technology R&D funding and a consultation into the government’s new industrial strategy.