Innovating UK Innovation Policy
An funding body inspired by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in the US could make a valuable contribution to UK innovation if it takes a mission-led approach, reaches a wide pool of innovators and helps rebalance innovation across the UK. However, ARPA’s large budget and the specific circumstances of its formation will mean that its exact model will be difficult to replicate in a UK context.
ARPA was set up by the US government in 1958 and was a product of the race between superpowers. It played an important role in many of the great innovations of the last 50 years, from the Internet and the graphical user interface to GPS and self-driving cars. It makes big bets on breakthrough technologies – high-risk, high-payoff opportunities.
A funding body inspired by ARPA should be set up in the UK to:
- Take a mission-based approach.
- Reach a wider pool of innovators than existing funding mechanisms.
- Help stimulate innovative economic activity outside of London and the South East.