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Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in business innovation

Policy paper: Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation study

New @InnovateUK report outlines barriers, challenges, opportunities and support needs for minority ethnic groups and disabled people to participate in business innovation 

As the UK’s Innovation agency, Innovate UK supports innovators across the UK that have the ambition and potential to contribute to economic growth and improve our society through their ideas. Innovate UK works with businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, helping them access the knowledge, partners, investment and markets they need to innovate and grow. Innovation can come from anyone; diversity within businesses is proven to contribute to enhanced performance and commercial success; this drives our commitment to addressing under representation and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

People with different backgrounds and experiences look at problems differently and this can lead to better, more innovative, solutions. Innovate UK commissioned this report to shed light on the barriers and opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and disabled people to participate in business-led innovation.

In the UK these communities are underrepresented in innovation however, there is a lack of relevant evidence and data to explain why. Research has shown the significance of intersectionality and how different individuals’ life experiences can have a big impact on the opportunities and barriers to business-led innovation.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have drawn major attention to inequalities in our society and have raised questions for Innovate UK and many other organisations about the effectiveness of plans and approaches to promote EDI.

While this report was commissioned prior to the pandemic and the worldwide reaction to the latest injustices on the Black community, its findings – and recommendation for Innovate UK to take strong action – have never been more timely. The report highlights the need for Innovate UK to purposefully recognise and engage with structures of exclusion both within our own organisation and the wider innovation landscape when shaping and implementing future activities aimed at addressing underrepresentation.

The report also highlights how mainstream support for business-led innovation is currently underutilised by minority groups and that UK initiatives targeting either disabled or Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are piecemeal and disproportionately focused on London.

The recommendations will help to inform how Innovate UK can make its support more visible, accessible, and attractive for the widest pool of innovation talent across the country. Innovate UK will put its energy into building stronger relationships with, and continuing to learn from, the organisations represented on the research Advisory Group and other partners as it evolves its strategy and develops new activities for the future.

Dr Ian Campbell Interim Executive Chair Innovate UK


Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation

PDF, 1.63MB, 16 pages


The Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation study, which was carried out by the Innovation Caucus, a research project supported by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council, also explores how initiatives can effectively promote diversity and inclusion in business innovation.

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