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Fill evidence gaps to improve innovation policy, BIS told

The UK government should carry out more research into the effects of regulation and policies on innovation, and how knowledge transfer works between companies and researchers, the Government Economic Service has said.

In a report written for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and published on 5 November, the GES says that a lack of understanding about how successful R&D tax credits are, or how conferences and publishing disseminate knowledge to companies, makes it difficult to formulate regulations or policies that might encourage innovation. “The UK performs well on publications and citations,” the report says, but “how this specifically translates into innovation and growth is not entirely clear”.

The UK’s research base is strong, the report says, but the “absorptive capacity” of companies—their ability to understand and make use of new knowledge—may be lacking in some regions of the UK and among small firms. The government “should incentivise persistent investment in absorptive capacity” in businesses, particularly by supporting the development of skills and qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics outside academia.

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