24 August 2006 | Paul Snell
Britain should follow the US and French model of procurement-driven innovation, the Conservative Party claimed last week.
A report from the party's science, technology, engineering and mathematics task force argued that the key to stimulating innovation is competition, and not the provision of grants to firms to come up with ideas.
In the task force's view, if government used its procurement budgets to place orders for innovative products, venture capitalists would be more likely to invest in companies that were developing the products.
Oliver Letwin, chairman of the party's policy review, said in a statement: "Intelligent purchasing may well be a much more promising way forward than bureaucratic subsidy schemes."
Ian Taylor MP, chairman of the task force, said the government currently provides "input" support for innovation - putting money into established projects to help them succeed.
The task force proposes moving to "output" support, whereby the government sets the market a specific challenge and buys the best solution.