The 2013 Global Innovation Index lists Sweden and the UK as two of the world’s top three countries for performance in innovation, based on a survey of 84 different measures in 142 countries.
The British Olympics team had the motto “better never stops”. Similarly with innovation, I think: it’s when you’re at or near the top of the league that you need to redouble your efforts to stay there.
With that in mind, the UK invited participants from 22 countries to London for an Innovation Conference last month, as part of our G8 Presidency. There were almost three hundred delegates, more than half from overseas.
Well known UK speakers included Sir Richard Branson, Ron Dennis (Chair of McLaren sports cars) and Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the new London bus).
Check out PM Cameron’s speech at the Conference as well as a various other speakers and information from the conference.
The Prime Minister announced a new £1m ‘Longitude’ innovation challenge prize for inventors or scientists who could identify and solve “the biggest problem of our time”, such as curing diabetes or dementia.
This was inspired by the Longitude Prize of 1714, which the then British government created to help determine how to work out a ship’s longitude and make long distance sailing voyages safer and more predictable.
The Prime Minister also launched a £50m Global Development Innovation Ventures initiative, also designed to find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
The Swedish/UK relationship in innovation continues to flourish, following John Gurdon’s Nobel Prize last year.
On 27 June, a British Professor, Colin Carlile, was awarded the Order of the Polar Star by the Swedish Minister for Education and Research, Jan Björklund. The award was recognition of Professor Carlile’s significant contributions to the European Spallation Source project in Lund, a facility for materials research and life sciences.
On 5 September, another British Professor, Dr Peter Morgan, will become the Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2013 for his work as a sanitation innovator. His efforts are helping to protect the health and lives of millions of people through improved sanitation and water technologies.
So healthy water and healthier lives are the fruits of our innovators: it’s great that Sweden and the UK are good at recognising them.