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Public procurement of R&D and innovation in the UK: Is there alignment between policy and practice? A study of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsOther report

Publication date10/09/2017
Place of PublicationLancaster
PublisherLancaster University
Number of pages52
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is the UK policy instrument for pre-commercial procurement, and the UK Government’s flagship policy on innovation-oriented public procurement. Its high potential for instigating commercially relevant R&D that addresses challenges facing the UK public sector, and for supporting the growth of innovative small firms has been stressed in policy and academic circles alike. Existing evidence, however, suggests that its full potential has yet to be realised. The SBRI scheme is currently under review to identify ways to scale it up and improve its effectiveness. Against this background, the aim of this research is to empirically examines the perceived role and effectiveness of the SBRI scheme in stimulating R&D and innovation, and any related challenges that impede the alignment of relevant policy aims with procurement processes and practices as executed ‘on the ground’. The study employed a qualitative research design comprising 26 in-depth interviews and collection and analysis of more than 70 relevant documents. The semi-structured interviews allowed developing an in-depth understanding of the perceptions of key relevant stakeholders: small firms participating in SBRI competitions and supplying R&D services, public organisations using the SBRI scheme and policy makers and innovation experts. As compared to the focus of the existing literature on evaluating the outputs and impact of the SBRI scheme against the provided inputs, this research report emphasises process-related, institutional, organisational and behavioural aspects which influence SBRI implementation and policy enactment more broadly.