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SBRI: How can the public sector benefit?

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a 20-year initiative that allows research and development services to be acquired from private sector providers, for the use of public sector organisations, and Innovate UK have published a new report on the success of the initiative.

The published report from Innovate UK details how the initiative has been a success, however there are still more benefits that government departments, agencies and devolved administrations around the country can reap, should they engage.

Despite its name, the SBRI isn’t strictly for small business and organisations of any size are able to apply. The include start-ups, small and mid-size enterprises, large organisations, not-for-profits and charities whilst over 100 organisations in the public sector have already used the scheme. This list includes the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Health and Social Care, the Department for Transport, and the National Health Service.

Innovate UK’s Chief Executive, Indro Mukerjee, said:

“The Innovate UK SBRI programme is a proven way of linking innovative private sector businesses with the public sector to address their challenges and develop long lasting solutions.

We are pleased with its recognised impact to date the now looking to further enhance and develop the programme for the future.”

Despite the list of public sector organisations that have already had success with the scheme being bigger government organisations or departments, there is still real potential for smaller organisations or local authorities to benefit from the SBRI. One of the ways that the SBRI can be useful and relatively risk-free for smaller organisations or local councils that are working to tighter budgets that those higher up in the government is thanks to the way that the payments are made. Payments are only made to the private companies when certain agreed milestones have been reached, so if those goals are not met, smaller public sector organisations with smaller budgets will not be left high and dry.

The initiative is also a good way for those in the public sector to show that they are able to be dynamic, innovative, and able to work in partnership with the private sector, something that, as government projects such as net zero and levelling up start to pick of speed, will be key in the future. Forging relationships and being able to work alongside private sector organisations of all sizes is beneficial for the future of the public sector. Cultural and behavioural changes have allowed a larger desire for innovation whilst also becoming more familiar with new technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in order to deliver their solutions. Something that, once again, as the UK Government and smaller local authorities move to execute their net zero and levelling up strategies will be crucial, especially regarding the former, where research, development and innovation will play a key part in the journey to carbon neutrality.

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