The Innovation Caucus: Championing the social sciences to support innovation-led growth

Professor Tim Vorley is convening the Innovation Caucus with the support of Dr Chay Brooks. Both are based at Sheffield University Management School, where they are members of the Centre for Economic and Enterprise Development. Tim’s research focuses primarily on the nature of institutional development in fostering entrepreneurial economies, while Chay’s research is focusing on entrepreneurial philanthropy.

Tim Vorley 150x150 Chay Brooks 150x150

From small businesses to global corporations, innovation is recognised as central to economic growth. However, if innovation-led growth is to thrive there is a need to build on insights about the innovation ecosystem in the UK and beyond. Understanding innovation has been a long standing focus of social science researchers across a broad range of disciplines. Social science research has a strong pedigree in generating international insights into innovation, ranging in focus business models to business environments and regulation to societal acceptance.

To enhance the impact of social science research the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has jointly funded a new initiative with Innovate UK to bring our communities closer together and promote collaboration. The recently established Innovation Caucus is a multidisciplinary team of researchers, who are working to ensure social science research informs the strategy and practice of Innovate UK. The Innovation Caucus aims to bridge the knowledge gap by providing Innovate UK strategists, analysts and technologists with research-based insights about the innovation process and the innovation ecosystem.

Innovate UK exists to fund, support and connect innovative businesses ideas, across a range of sectors and its remit is UK wide. Working across the four devolved administrations and 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships, presents a particular challenge to ensure national innovation policy also serves to deliver local innovation-led growth. Moreover, given the wide-ranging societal dimensions of Innovate UK’s work, strengthening the connection with social science researchers fundamentally matters.

Better understanding innovation as well as the economic and societal contexts in which it occurs is crucial to realising innovation-led growth. The strength of the social science research base in the UK represents an important asset in understanding what works in terms of innovation and why. There is a growing number of social science researchers examining aspects of innovation, but where there are knowledge gaps these need to be acknowledged and addressed independently. The challenge now is to ensure that research-based insights are translated and lessons learned.

The Innovation Caucus will serve as an interface to support Innovate UK to engage with social science researchers, as well as responding to thematic and process-related questions. The aim is ultimately to increase the impact of innovation research and foster knowledge exchange that enhances Innovate UK in their support of innovation across the UK. Over the coming months the Innovation Caucus is taking a structured approach to bring together small groups of policy makers, strategists, analysts, and technologists with social science researchers.


Visit the Innovation Caucus website to about receive briefings, keep informed of forthcoming events or to get involved with our activities to enhance the impact of social science research. You can also follow Innovation Caucus on Twitter (@innovcaucus).

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