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Volume 474: debated on Thursday 27 March 2008

6. What steps he is taking to encourage innovative enterprises. (196483)

Our White Paper, “Innovation Nation”, sets out the steps that the Government are taking to encourage innovative enterprises to make Britain the best country in the world in which to run an innovative business. Measures outlined in the White Paper include extending the successful innovation platform initiative, sponsored by the Technology Strategy Board, doubling the knowledge transfer partnership programme, introducing innovation vouchers for small and medium-sized enterprises, and increasing Government procurement opportunities for the most innovative enterprises.

I am grateful for that answer. What can be done further to increase innovation in the public sector?

The public sector must not be neglected as an area for innovation. There are many good examples of public sector innovation, including NHS Direct, which has set a world standard for that new way of delivering a public service. However, as the White Paper recognises, there are areas in which we need to improve, particularly to ensure that innovation that takes place in one part of the public sector can quickly be picked up in other places. It is important to ensure that the ways in which targets are set, or the ways in which services are commissioned, lay themselves open to enabling people to find new ways of achieving the right outcome for patients, students or whoever. A key part of the White Paper is to develop within government a real strengthening of the capacity of senior civil servants, commissioners and others responsible for developing public services, to ensure that the way in which we develop our public services increases the opportunities for innovation rather than diminishes them.