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Innovation Policy Toolkit: Tradecraft for innovation diplomats

Governments around the world are recognising the importance of innovation diplomacy. These practices sit somewhere between science diplomacy, which tends to focus on supporting academic research partnerships, and economic diplomacy, which tends to focus on trade and international regulations.

This guide is designed for UK innovation diplomats looking for a set of practical tools and examples to help them think about how to improve support for innovation collaboration.

Innovation diplomacy includes everything from helping build academic partnerships with industry, enabling open innovation and collaboration to influencing intellectual property regimes, building global value chains and developing and scaling innovative solutions to global problems.

The guide is based on the practices of the UK Science and Innovation Network. It is organised by four roles that an innovation diplomat can take when supporting innovation collaboration:

  • Exploring and Informing: Understanding innovation systems, spotting opportunities and barriers for collaboration and communicating them to the relevant organisations.
  • Influencing and Promoting: Influencing policies to improve the wider conditions for collaboration with innovative UK companies (eg IPR regimes) and promoting UK organisations as collaborators and the UK as a destination for foreign technology-based investments.
  • Cultivating and Connecting: Building relationships with decision-makers, designing targeted events and workshops to spur new international partnerships, organising missions to familiarise researchers and companies with new opportunities, matching individuals / institutions / companies with appropriate international partners and acting as an international portal for the UK innovation system.
  • Activating and Scaling: Develop, co-develop or identify external resources to help secure and scale promising collaborations, find ways to help accelerate the commercialisation of research or diffusion of innovation and build international partnerships that transform global opportunities for innovative firms.

The guide contains a set of 10 case studies which explore the different scenarios in which the UK’s Science and Innovation Network have supported innovation collaboration to date. These practices are developing all the time. Find out more about the work of the Science and Innovation Network.

The guide also contains links to worksheets and practical resources. It is intended as a prototype resource for an emerging set of practices. We would be interested in your feedback and ideas whether you are an innovation diplomat from the UK network or from a partner country anywhere else in the world.