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Speaking to the Innovation Population

Who cares about innovation? The answer depends on what sort of innovation you’re talking about, and to what end. This report looks at the UK public's attitudes to innovation.

Who cares about innovation? The answer depends on what sort of innovation you’re talking about, and to what end. This report looks at the UK public's attitudes to innovation.

Key findings

Nesta worked with ComRes to survey how the UK public views innovation, based on attitudes to technology, risk and pace of change. We found that:

  • Most people in the UK are positive about innovation, but attitudes towards it depend on how it is described.
  • The research identified one in five people who are fans of innovation as a concept, the Innovation Futurists. It is arguably this group that most innovation policy communication is currently focused on.
  • Two other groups, the Innovation Realists and the Innovation Creatives, represent over half the population. These two groups are favourable to innovation as long as it’s described in terms of tangible improvements to their lives, rather than its own sake. Reaching these groups offers a much wider base of support for innovation policy.
  • The public believes that the biggest priorities for more innovation are healthcare, energy, agriculture and education, but this is not reflected in current public spending, which prioritises defence spending and the pharmaceutical industry.
  • There is strong support for public spending on innovation, with 70 per cent of the population rating the current level of spending as about right or too little.

The research also contains findings about how the public views Britain’s position in the world and the role of the Government in promoting innovation.

The work pulls together online surveys of over 6,000 UK adults and face-to-face focus groups with over 100 people in six locations across the country. Nesta commissioned ComRes to undertake the research. Full tables of the data can be found online at www.ComRes.co.uk

Authors
Jen Rae, Stian Westlake, Louise Marston

Part of
Plan I

Authors

Louise Marston

Louise Marston

Louise Marston

Director of Innovation Policy and Futures

Louise was Director of Innovation Policy and Futures within the Policy and Research team. She managed Nesta's work on innovation policy and technology futures. She previously worked ...

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Stian Westlake

Stian Westlake

Stian Westlake

Executive Director of Policy and Research

Stian led Nesta's Policy and Research team. His research interests included the measurement of innovation and its effects on productivity, the role of high-growth businesses in the e...

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Jen Rae

Jen Rae

Jen Rae

Head of UK Innovation Policy at Nesta

Jen Rae is a policy advisor on innovation and economic growth for Nesta’s Policy and Research team. She is responsible for producing evidence-based policy from Nesta’s wide range of ...

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