Innovation news in brief: Clean energy; cyber insurance; R&D

Electric motors provide a clean and safe alternative to the internal combustion engine.

Entrepreneurs too busy to innovate
British entrepreneurs are so pushed for time they have little opportunity to come up with new ideas for improving business, reports City AM.

According to a new survey by technology company Sage, British entrepreneurs are so pushed for time they have little opportunity to come up with new ideas for improving business.

In a survey of 2,600 SME owners, 34% said their busy schedules were a “block to innovation”. In fact, of all possible areas of neglect when building a business, this was ranked as the most common among Britain's entrepreneurs.

Cyber insurance dominates Lloyds’ inaugural innovation awards
Insurer Lloyd’s has launched its first ever innovation awards for the sector, with cyber insurance featuring strongly in two of the three winning categories. The winners, within each of the three award categories, were:

  • Best Product Innovation - Russell Kennedy, class underwriter, War and Terrorism at Brit Global Specialty, for devising a new cyber insurance product offering first party protection to commercial and industrial assureds for losses from a cyber attack;
  • Best Non-Product Innovation – Paul Willoughby, business technology manager, Beazley, for MyBeazley – an etrading system for brokers designed like a consumer site; and
  • Best Under-35 Innovation – Laila Khudairi, cyber expert and deputy underwriter at Tokio Marine Kiln for Cyber Insurance with Reputational Harm – a product which combines industry-standard cyber protection with an innovative approach to reputational harm insurance.

Bill Gates focuses on clean energy innovation

Bill Gates will unveil the world's largest clean energy research and development partnership today, reports CNBC, as climate change negotiators from around the world gather in Paris , and a group of nations including the US will agree to double their clean energy R&D budgets.

Bingley innovation centre plans revealed

Details have been revealed for a new innovation centre proposed to be built on farm land in Bingley, West Yorkshire, which developers claim will help put the district at the centre of the Northern Powerhouse.

According to the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, the Milner Field Innovation Centre is proposed on farmland near Dowley Gap and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and will include laboratories and facilities for start up businesses with some of the site used for research work by the University of Bradford and Bradford College.

Euro billions for research and innovation

The European Commission has announced an investment of €16 billion (£11 billion) for research and innovation in the next two years under the EU research and innovation scheme, Horizon 2020, reports Laboratory News

This new investment – offered by a new Work Programme for 2016-2017 adopted on 13 October – will offer opportunities through a range of calls for proposals, public procurements and other actions such as the Horizon Prizes, together covering nearly 600 topics.

Carlos Moedas, commissioner for research, science and innovation, said: “Research and innovation are the engines of Europe’s progress and vital to addressing today’s new pressing challenges like immigration, climate change, clean energy and healthy societies. Over the next two years, €16 billion from Horizon 2020 will support Europe’s top scientific efforts, making the difference to citizens’ lives.”

Almost €1.7 billion will be invested in 2016 alone for 1,000 European Research Council (ERC) grants.

Innovation disconnect for middle market sector

Research from accountancy firm KPMG claims to have highlighted a disconnect between the value that businesses place on innovation and the amount that they are investing in it threatening to inhibit the growth of the UK’s middle market sector.

A survey of 215 medium sized businesses found that 90% of companies agree that being better at innovation than competitors is fundamental to their long time survival.

KPMG claims that companies’ confidence that they are excelling at innovation is low, with only a quarter (26%) believing they are superior to their competitors on the innovation front.

According to the study, only 6.7 % of the average company’s turnover is in innovation. The lack of confidence in the effectiveness of this spend also suggests that many business owners don’t really know what ‘good’ looks like.

Ben McDonald, enterprise partner at KPMG, said: “In this world of extraordinary technological advancement and digital disruption, the old adage ‘innovate or die’ has never rang more true.

“Yet while many business leaders understand the importance of innovation, too many companies across the UK simply haven’t grasped the nettle.

“Whether this is due to a fear of failure, a reluctance to monetise ideas or a lack of skills and resource, the uncomfortable truth is that many privately-owned businesses are not ‘walking the talk’ and in doing so, are limiting their growth potential in a significant way.”