Innovate UK

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Innovate UK
Innovate UK logo.png
Formation 1 July 2007 (as the Technology Strategy Board)
Type The UK's innovation agency
Legal status Non-departmental public body
Purpose To accelerate UK economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation
Headquarters North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1UE
Region served
Chief Executive
Dr Ruth McKernan CBE
Main organ
Governing Board (Chairman - Phil Smith)
Parent organization
Affiliations European Network of Innovation Agencies
Website [1]

Innovate UK is the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency. It is a UK non-departmental public body operating at arm's length from the Government reporting to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

In August 2014 the Technology Strategy Board fully adopted the name Innovate UK, to express better its role and purpose.


Innovate UK has its roots as an advisory body - the Technology Strategy Board - established in 2004 within the former UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), before becoming an independent body in July 2007 after the reorganisation of the DTI into the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) under Brown's government.

The original Technology Strategy Board had its roots in the Innovation Review published by the DTI in December 2003 and the Lambert Review. This reconfigured the major funding mechanism as the Collaborative Research and Development Technology Programme, transformed the pre-existing Faraday Partnerships into Knowledge Transfer Networks, renamed the Teaching Company Scheme as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and set up an Advisory Board made up of 12 people from business, venture capital and regional government. These changes all took place in 2004 - with the Advisory Board being appointed in October of that year.

In the 2006 Budget Gordon Brown announced the intention to set up the Technology Strategy Board as a "non-departmental public body" operating at "arm's length" from the UK Government. It was decided to locate the new organisation in Swindon, and to recruit a team primarily with business experience.

In August 2014 the organisation adopted the name Innovate UK, to better express its role and function, and began a transition to use the new name in all its communications. However the legal name of the organisation currently remains as the Technology Strategy Board.


Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency. It funds, supports and connects innovative British businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth

Governing board[edit]

The governing board consists of

  • Phil Smith (Chairman), CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland
  • Hazel Moore
  • Ian Shott
  • Robert Sorrell
  • Mike Carr
  • Harry Swan
  • Tera Allas


The tools and programmes offered by the organisation include Collaborative Research and Development, SBRI (the Small Business Research Initiative), Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Launchpad competitions and overseas missions.

It has developed the Innovation Platforms - an approach to innovation which harnesses the activities government departments use to address societal challenges to stimulate innovative solutions within UK businesses.

The 2010 coalition budget announced that certain innovation activity would transfer from regional development agencies to the Technology Strategy Board, including the Grant for Research & Development (now branded as Smart) and Innovation Vouchers.[1]

In 2012 the Technology Strategy Board began to establish the network of Catapult centres. This is a long-term investment to create world-leading centres where scientists and businesses will work together to accelerate the pace of innovation in particular sectors and help businesses bring new products and services more quickly to market.

Knowledge transfer[edit]

As well as the knowledge transfer inherent in many of its funding programmes, the Technology Strategy Board runs a Knowledge Transfer Network covering a wide range of technology areas and specialisms, where people can share ideas and find partners.


Innovate UK maintains an online collaboration platform,_connect, where members of the Knowledge Transfer Network and other groups concerned with innovation can meet, share information and collaborate.

_connect is an online business networking and open innovation portal. The site currently has over 90,000 active user profiles, is home to the Knowledge Transfer Network and a wide range of other special interest and networking groups.[2]

_connect provides a powerful innovation and collaboration opportunity for an increasing number of external networks where 'open innovation' happens. Innovators are able to use free, online tools in a secure and confidential setting to explore some of the challenging projects and issues they face together in specific sectors.

Businesses can use _connect as a place to meet and network with other organisations and to find business partners for collaborative projects.

Ultra low carbon vehicle demonstrator programme[edit]

An example of the organisation's work was the UK-wide ultra low carbon vehicle demonstrator programme, where over 340 vehicles were trialled to provide data for future vehicle innovation. Some of the cars are

Funded projects[edit]

Projects it has funded include:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]