D Insights
May 10, 2024

Connect to Prosper: How the UK Can Leverage its Skillset to Achieve the SDG 9 Goals.

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Connect to Prosper: How the UK Can Leverage its Skillset to Achieve the SDG 9 Goals.

At the end of April, BEI and the D Group worked together to host a session at the Mansion House on the UK’s role in achieving the SDG 9 goals in industry, infrastructure and innovation.   The event was part of the Lord Mayor’s Coffee Colloquies series, which is designed to highlight the UK’s competence as a “go-to” for addressing global challenges. SDG 9’s goal is to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

As several panellists pointed out, innovation is not just about finding new solutions. If it is to be of value to society, it must also be about applying solutions in a sustainable way that works around the world.

This chimes with the insights D Group and Ploughshare identified in our “Unleashing the UK’s Innovation Capability to Support our National Interests” project. The UK has a genuinely world class university system and surrounding infrastructure, generating world class research and IP. However, it was a recurring theme across the research that the UK could do more to better exploit its natural advantages: as a nation we do very well at new ideas, but that much more could be done to scale these ideas and maximise their potential through commercialisation.

In some areas, there are examples of international best practice from which we can learn.  As Neil Marshall form Change School mentioned, working with universities and the SME community in Malaysia was an eye-opening experience. Despite cultural differences between business and academia in timescales and language, they found that bringing together these groups to collaborate was a faster and more straightforward process than in the UK. There are a few key lessons here. Malaysia is committed to building ‘innovation infrastructure’; the 10:10 MySTIE framework sets out a cohesive plan for bringing together technology and innovation for broader socio-economic goals. Industry, innovation and infrastructure are concentric goals; committing to a well-connected strategy for leveraging national strengths in innovation into sustainable growth is necessary to move from concept to commercialisation.

The UK has so much to offer in achieving the SDG 9 goals; high quality, exportable standards, a world class research and innovation ecosystem and international expertise. But it is also clear that there is a lot to learn from other nations in their agility and willingness to adapt.

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of The D Group.  

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