CBI hosts conference to share ideas for innovation


Business leaders from across the East Midlands have gathered to share ideas on how firms in the region can best put the time and resources into business innovation to improve their performances and help drive economic, social and cultural development.

The CBI’s Innovation Conference spelled out to local businesses just how essential innovating as a business is to deliver economic growth in the East Midlands and lift productivity.

While there is great work being done across the UK, the broader picture is less rosy: investment in research and development (R&D) has stalled at around 1.7% of GDP for the last 30 years, falling well short of global averages (2.4%). There is a similar story on firms adopting technology, whether cutting-edge or day-to-day – in some areas, like content management systems, the UK are the equivalent of a decade behind Denmark.

The conference set out the challenges, opportunities and solutions to get more firms innovating.

Tom Thackray, Director of Innovation, CBI, said: “Innovation can mean many different things to different businesses but there is a common thread: turning new ideas into business growth. It is at the heart of economic, social and cultural development here in the East Midlands and the rest of the UK.

“It drives productivity, raises living standards and helps to lay the foundations for tomorrow’s world. So we must get more businesses innovating in the East Midlands full stop.

“While the eyes of the business world can often be on ‘the next big thing’ in cutting-edge technology, too many firms are missing out on what’s right under their nose. Failing to adopt the nuts and bolts technologies of today is leaving a yawning gap in productivity and pay between businesses.

“The UK needs more ‘magpie’ firms with the skill and the will to find and adopt tried and trusted technologies and management practices that the best businesses showcase, and not get stuck in their ways. The impact could be a £100bn plus uplift in the economy meaning more opportunities for people and communities.

“The Government has rightly introduced a target to raise R&D spending, so now is the time to ensure they do just that in partnership with businesses.”

As well as interactive sessions and keynote speakers, a panel on driving a culture of innovation through businesses was held with representatives from Hallam Internet, EEF, Knowledge Transfer Network, Morningside Pharmaceuticals and Ricoh UK Ltd.  Business will also hear from Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK.  The event was sponsored by University of Nottingham and Browne Jacobson LLP.