Here are some findings from our recent research:

UK Sectors in which the lack of skills is holding back innovation

Level 4: Nanotechnology; Big Data
Level 3: Civil aviation; Creative industries; Financial services; Industrial biotechnology
Level 2: Agri-science; Electronics, photonics, and systems; Low impact buildings; Low carbon vehicles; Nuclear energy; Regenerative medicine; Robotics and autonomous systems; Future cities
Level 1: Oil and gas; Synthetic biology
Level 0: Energy storage; Renewable energy; Farm-to-fork value chain; Intelligent transport systems; Satellites and space; Stratified medicine; Assisted living; Cyber security

[Level 4 = showstopper; Level 3 = slowing down (a lot); Level 2 = slowing down; Level 1 = slowing (a little); and 0 – no evidence found]

These failures result from the difference between the capabilities of real firms and those assumed in the idealised economic models, so that firms lack need needed skills, resources, ability to learn, absorptive and analytic capacity or otherwise to capture innovation opportunities.

Sources: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2014) The Case for Public Support of Innovation. At Sector, Technology, and Challenge Areas Levels. Table 34, pp. 151-152
Definition of “capability and learning failure”

UK Energy technologies being held back due to lack of skills

  • Offshore wind – severe
  • Heating and cooling – heat storage – low
  • Building fabric – severe
  • Heating and cooling – hydrogen boilers – low
  • Industry – moderate
  • Hydrogen and fuel cells – low
  • Heating and cooling – heat pumps – moderate
  • Tidal systems – low
  • Heating and cooling – heat networks – moderate
  • Carbon capture, utilisation and storage – low
  • Nuclear fission – moderate
  • Smart systems – low
  • Road transport – moderate
  • Biomass and bioenergy – low

Definition of Terms

Low: implies that without government intervention, innovation, investment, and deployment will continue at the same levels, driven by a well-functioning industry and international partners

Moderate: implies that without government intervention, innovation, investment, and deployment will occur due to well-functioning industry and international partners, but at a lower scale and speed

Severe: implies that without government intervention, innovation, investment, and deployment are significantly constrained and will only occur in certain market segments or must be adjusted for the UK market

Critical: implies that without government intervention, innovation, investment, and deployment will not occur in the UK

Source: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2019) Energy Innovation Needs Assessment (Research Report 33) and Individual Sub-sector reports.