UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


A Mission-Oriented UK Industrial Strategy report sets out innovative approach to Grand Challenges

22 May 2019

The UCL Commission on Mission-Oriented Innovation and Industrial Strategy (MOIIS) chaired by Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Lord David Willetts have released a report which sets out an approach to UK investment and innovation targeted at solving systemic 21st century challenges.

MOIIS report launch news story

The report titled “A Mission-Oriented UK Industrial Strategy” looks at different missions which target the four Grand Challenges outlined by the Government – an Ageing Society, the Future of Mobility, Clean Growth and the AI & Data Economy. The report also outlines how to ensure the design of these missions are able to crowd-in investment and innovation across different actors and sectors in the economy. The UCL Commission on Mission-Oriented Innovation and Industrial Strategy (MOIIS) hope this can lead to a concrete roadmap to attain sustainable and inclusive, investment-led growth.

Innovation policy, and industrial strategy specifically, are an opportunity to direct innovation towards solving big societal problems. For the past year, the MOIIS Commission has been working closely with the Government to develop key recommendations and implementation steps which can inspire innovation, solve societal crises and stimulate economic growth. They have also been looking at cross-cutting issues—like how to use procurement policy to inspire bottom-up experimentation and exploration towards achieving the missions, and how to engage civil society.

Commission members attend a workshop on clean growth, July 2018

Key to the recommendations is the idea that government must now take the opportunity to go further than its current programme and be bolder in its ambition and framing, becoming the “investor of first resort rather than just … a lender of last resort”. The report explains how many radical advances in technology, such as the Internet and GPS, were created as ‘spill-overs’ along the way to solving bigger, specific challenges – and in turn how those inventions led the way for many of the society-shifting technologies we use today, such as Uber.

Professor Mariana Mazzucato said:

“This report creates an ambitious but achievable path for the UK to follow if we want to be at the forefront of tackling the great challenges facing our world, from climate change to the health of ageing societies.
“At a time when we stand at an economic crossroads, the industrial strategy can determine our approach to investment and innovation, future-proofing society and providing the best possible environment for investment and technological advances to flourish.
“Government needs to take an assertive role in creating the future, not just providing fixes - a narrow focus on the areas that private finance is prepared to sponsor today is no longer a sufficient response.”

Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said:

“Today’s report rightly supports our Industrial Strategy’s aim to invest and build the economy, sectors and jobs of the future in the UK. 
“Whether it’s increasing spending on research and development to a record ever level, or agreeing Sector Deals and Local Industrial Strategies, our Industrial Strategy will help ensure we build on the UK’s expertise and ensure we become the global leaders in new and emerging technologies, while securing highly-skilled jobs and investment in all parts of the country.”

To read the full report and press release, visit the Mission-Oriented UK Industrial Strategy report page.