Turning inventions into economic growth

So the announcement has been made, the UK’s long awaited approach to supporting ‘high-risk, high-reward’ scientific research. Originally framed as the UK’s take on America’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the new agency will be called the Advanced Research and Invention Agency: ARIA.



Whilst its budget is relatively small – £800M over five years, particularly when compared with that announced in the Government’s Spending Review last November for R&D in 20/21 of £14.6Bn, the objectives are well intentioned. The aim being to ‘take fast, agile decisions without bureaucracy’ leading to ground-breaking discoveries that could transform people’s lives for the better.

Transforming people’s lives is key. Pull through, adoption and commercialisation of services and products leading to sustainable economic growth must be centre stage when considering what success looks like. How can ARIA support and enable the levelling up agenda and building back better through innovation?

There will be challenges. For ARIA to succeed it will need will need longevity and continuity of funding. It’s location within Government is interesting. Being part of BEIS, rather than as suggested by some, Cabinet Office, means that it will need work hard to ensure it docks into all the relevant parts of government and the wider public sector in order to be truly disruptive.

And it will need intelligence. Ground breaking discoveries only deliver economic and/or societal benefit if they are informed by knowing what’s needed and what’s possible. Identifying needs and opportunities within different sectors through human experience, ethics, data and collaboration de-risks the process of moving from ground breaking discovery to commercial application.

Here at the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing we are applying exactly this approach to the longevity economy. Our approach is called Ageing Intelligence® and combines evidence synthesis, deep market and trend analysis, horizon scanning and consumer insights together with real-world applied testing. Our proprietary methodological approach is applicable to all sectors.

We look forward to working with ARIA as it develops over the coming months and years to ensure that collectively we deliver on the levelling up agenda and that the UK’s position as a global science and innovation superpower is maintained and enhanced.