Launch of the 2015 Global Innovation Index

The World Intellectual Property Organization, INSEAD Business School and Cornell University launch the 2015 Global Innovation Index.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG

Good morning, everyone. It is a pleasure to welcome you to London and to the 2015 Global Innovation Index launch. The UK is a nation proud of its innovators, of Sir Isaac Newton, of Crick of DNA fame, of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Less famous in this context is Margaret Thatcher but in her chemical days she invented what we now know as Mr Whippy ice cream!

It is a pleasure therefore to have the opportunity to host the World Intellectual Property Organization, INSEAD Business School and Cornell University as they launch the 2015 Global Innovation Index. And I’m delighted to see so many of you here with a keen interest in this important publication. This is only the 8th edition of the Global Innovation Index, but it has quickly established itself as an important tool for those seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world.

This historic building, Central Hall Westminster, hosted the very first meeting of the 51 founder nations of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council in 1946. It’s amazing to think how far the UN has come since then! Francis Gurry here now presides over its specialised IP agency which boasts 188 member states.

Innovation is a vital driver of global growth and economic prosperity. The UK, we like to think, remains one of the world’s leading innovators. Certainly we have a long tradition in producing the very best in science and research.

As the UK Intellectual Property Minister, I am of course aware of the vital role IP plays for countries seeking to protect and make the most of their knowledge economy. We have a good legal framework of rights in the UK and I am delighted that Taylor Wessing’s latest Global IP Index judged the UK to be the best place in the world to obtain, exploit and enforce IP rights.

The modern world is a connected world, and this report demonstrates that many emerging economies are growing in their innovation strength. This provides excellent opportunities for the UK to expand its collaboration portfolio, and through Innovate UK, the Government has established a network of elite Catapult Centres to commercialise new and emerging technologies in areas where there are large global market opportunities.

I am delighted to see that Simon Edmonds, Director of Innovate UK’s Catapult Programme, is on the panel today, and I don’t want to steal his thunder. I will just say however that the first 7 Catapults are open for business, with total public and private investment exceeding £1.4 billion over their first 5 years of operation. Two brand new Catapults, Energy Systems and Precision Medicine, have also started to operate as independent organisations and the Chancellor announced a new Medicines Technologies Catapult as part of July’s Productivity Plan.

GII assessment

The UK has so far done well in the GII rankings and we are cautiously hopeful that we will be able to sustain that position.

This year the UK also came second when measuring the quality of innovation globally. Overall, we hope and believe that the GII assessment reflects the positive economic environment in the UK.

Through the new £375 million Newton Fund, we will use our strength in research and innovation to promote the economic development and social welfare of partner countries. The fund forms part of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA) commitment and its primary focus is to develop the research and innovation capacity of nearly 20 partner countries for long-term sustainable growth.

Assessment of some of the factors that have led to success

The UK invests more in ideas and knowledge than it does in bricks and machinery. Latest figures show that investment in intangible assets outstrips tangible assets by £126 billion to £88 billion. Half of that investment is protected by IP rights. The UK Intellectual Property Office is today publishing its annual report on innovation and growth, setting out how we are developing the UK’s IP regime to support businesses.

Universities are key sources of knowledge and expertise for business. The UK has fine universities that provide us with the highly skilled workforce necessary to drive innovation, with 38 ranked among the 100 most international universities globally according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The right business environment is a crucial foundation for private investment. Government has put in place a range of wider policies to support innovation. R&D tax credits and the Patent Box have a key role in underpinning growth and have supported R&D investment by business to the tune of £13.2 billion, claimed by a total of 15,120 businesses.

The UK has been successful in attracting funding for R&D from overseas. In 2011, the UK attracted almost $7 billion of overseas-financed R&D.

For UK businesses whose innovations have global potential, collaborating with international partners and opening market opportunities is increasingly important.

UK Trade and Investment and other UK innovation institutions have been working to increase the advice and support available to UK companies trading overseas. They have established strong platforms for collaboration with leading and emerging markets.

The government’s commitment to continue to support innovation

Innovation is at the core of the encouraging economic recovery in the UK. It is central to our future growth, underpinning our competitiveness and helping to capture the new customers and markets that secure our income.

Delivering an environment that nurtures innovative talents is a cornerstone of a thriving economy, and I am proud that the UK has retained its 2nd place global ranking. More importantly the government is committed to making Britain the best place in Europe to innovate, patent new ideas and start and grow a business.

I would like to thank you all for your interest in this important event and wish I could stay for what is set to be a fascinating panel discussion, but I’m afraid a parliamentary question on the future of the BBC beckons so I look forward to hearing about your discussions later.

I will now hand you over to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Mr Francis Gurry.

Published 17 September 2015