Reforming the governance of technological innovation in the UK

Innovation is expected to form the future basis of national prosperity in the UK and internationally and the UK Industrial Strategy White Paper has proposed ambitious plans for providing financial, organisational and structural support to the UK’s most innovative sectors. However, these investments will fail to deliver the expected benefits unless they are accompanied by targeted initiatives to make regulatory systems more proportionate and adaptive to the needs of innovative technologies.

Innogen research on proportionate and adaptive governance of innovative technologies (PAGIT) has contributed to the UK‘s plans for future governance of innovation.

As a member of the UK's Council for Science and Technology, Innogen Institute co-director Joyce Tait was a key contributor to its recent initiative to promote a regulatory landscape that is more proportionate and adaptive to the needs of emerging technologies.

The Council for Science and Technology's letter to the Prime Minister in September 2018 highlighted the opportunity for Government to develop further its approach to regulation of innovative technologies and made four recommendations to promote investment and maximise the economic and societal benefits of technological advances.

In response to the letter, Business Secretary Greg Clark launched the following initiatives:

  • The cross-government Ministerial Working Group on Future Regulation, chaired by Greg Clark, to create the regulatory environment for future industries to thrive in the UK;
  • A Strategic Horizon Scanning Function to support and challenge regulators UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Government Office for Science and the Better Regulation Executive (BRE);
  • The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to support innovations to come to market, driven forward by a Regulators’ Innovation Network;
  • A One-Stop-Shop set up through the BRE to give regulatory advice to businesses and investors to give them confidence to bring their ideas to market;
  • BRE to work with the Office for Product Safety and Standards, the British Standards Institution and the National Physical Laboratory to examine how regulation, standards and related tools could be designed to enable innovation.

At the first meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Future Regulation which took place on the 23rd October 2018, Greg Clark outlined his commitment to building on the UK’s exceptional reputation for regulation by ensuring UK regulators are ready for the industries of the future. Government’s investment of £10 million in 15 projects through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund will help regulators keep pace with merging technologies.

Speaking at the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the Business Secretary confirmed that the UK would establish a new partnership with the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, based in San Francisco, to examine the governance of technological innovation and support a modern ‘agile’ regulatory approach that fosters innovation whilst protecting consumers.



Tait, J., Banda, G. & Watkins, A. (2017) Proportionate and adaptive governance of innovative technologies (PAGIT): A framework to guide policy and regulatory decision making.