Queen's Speech 2022: The Innovation Agenda

Posted on: 26/05/2022

As the Government sets out its priorities for the 2022/2023 Parliamentary session, we explore what it means for the UK’s innovation ecosystem.

Earlier this month Prince Charles delivered the 2022 Queen’s Speech presenting the Government’s legislative agenda for this Parliamentary year amid the accelerated rising costs of living and of doing business, as well as increasing global economic uncertainty. The Government intends to pass a total of 38 headline bills this year.

Although the focus of the Speech was on the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda and the so-called ‘Brexit-dividend’, some of the bills presented will undoubtedly impact the innovation ecosystem. The summary below aims to outline the upcoming bills that could impact some of KTN’s areas of work and its communities:

Net Zero

The UK has a binding target to reach net zero by 2050, as such, numerous strategies, including the Net Zero Strategy, have been published to guide this journey. Nevertheless, experts have stressed that the current decarbonisation pace is insufficient and that both public and private capital must be mobilised to seize the challenge of climate change. Bills announced to tackle this include:

  • UK Infrastructure Bank Bill (HMT) to create a new state-owned investment bank with a £22bn capacity to support key under-invested market areas and boost the UK’s infrastructure transition towards net zero, while improving connections across the country. The Bank will partner with the private sector to unlock an additional £18bn of private investment
  • Energy Security Bill (BEIS) to promote renewable and low-carbon energy sources and expand consumer access to heat pumps. It will aim to deliver the British Energy Security Strategy and the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution commitments, including the first large-scale hydrogen heating trial and a favourable regulatory environment for fusion energy. Although the Bill will extend the energy price cap beyond 2023, it falls short of addressing the current hike in energy costs.

Through connecting business, research and funding, KTN is key to driving the change needed to deliver a Net Zero future for the country. To find out more about our work on Net Zero contact our lead expert Emma McKenna.

Place

Guided by the Levelling Up agenda, reducing the country’s regional inequalities is at the core of the Government’s objectives, as well as one of KTN’s strategic priorities demonstrated through our Net Zero Places Innovation Network. The overarching goal is to realise the potential of every place and every person across the UK by 2030, encouraging the distribution of opportunities. Bills announced in this area include:

  • Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LUHC) to enshrine in law the 12 missions set in the Levelling Up White Paper. It will give local leaders greater powers, with the opportunity to benefit from a Devolution Deal by 2030, including a new model of combined authority (‘County Deal’). It will also set a new planning framework in which the environment is further prioritised.
  • Transport Bill (DfT) to simplify the railways and keep the UK at the forefront of transport innovation by helping to decarbonise transport creating a new body, Great British Railways, as the national leader for railways. It will also enable the installation of more EV charge points throughout the country and unlock legislation for self-driving vehicles – a new emerging sector.
  • High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill (DfT) to provide the powers to build and operate the next stage of the High Speed Two (HS2) network between Crewe and Manchester. Contact Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain for more information on how KTN is supporting rail innovation.

To find out more about KTN’s work on Place, contact our Head of Place, Kezia WIlliamson.

Post-Brexit landscape

One of the main areas of work emerging from the UK’s EU departure is the reform of the country’s regulations to unlock growth in industries that were previously under the common European framework. The Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform independent report informs part of the Government’s actions in this area, and KTN have been supporting the Government to engage with businesses to prioritise actions within the recommendations. A number of Bills were announced seeking to shape the UK post-Brexit landscape:

  • Brexit Freedom Bill (Cabinet) leading the post-Brexit regulation overhaul, making it easier to remove or change retained EU law (the law that was copied into UK primary law after the transition period).
  • Procurement Bill (Cabinet) to simplify rules on how the government buys services from the private sector and encourage opportunities for innovative SMEs. This Bill was already announced in last year’s speech and aims to replace the current EU rules with three new procedures. Our KTN-iX programme leads an innovation challenge on public procurement; contact David Crole for more information.
  • Data Reform Bill (DCMS) to replace EU rules on data protection (EU GDPR) with a UK data framework that enables growth, reduces the burden on businesses and helps scientists to innovate by setting a clearer regulatory framework for responsible personal data use in innovation and scientific purposes. It will modernise the Information Commissioner’s Office and give greater access to data in health and social care contexts. However, some fear the outcome of this new Bill could prompt the EU to withdraw its data adequacy ruling that currently allows EU-UK data transfers.
  • Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill (DEFRA) removing the EU-inherited barriers to gene-edited organisms to enable precision breeding technologies to boost UK’s agricultural and scientific innovation, such as increasing disease resistance in crops, increasing food production and lowering pesticide use. This Bill has been welcomed by farmers but it is likely to face strong opposition from environmentalist groups. David Telford leads our AgriFood sector experts team.
  • A Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill (DIT) to allow the implementation of these new Free Trade Agreements following the UK’s departure from the EU. It also includes the intention to take action to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Financial Services and Markets Bill (HMT) to simplify the current EU rules governing the sector, with a focus on growth and international competitiveness to promote investment in UK’s capital markets, while protecting consumers and investors. This includes improving the accuracy of the Companies House data and taking steps to fund a Centre of Finance, Innovation and Technology.
  • Draft Audit Reform Bill (BEIS) to increase completion among auditors, improve financial reporting and strengthen the UK’s global leadership position in this sector.

Innovation and technology adoption and diffusion

Streamlining processes and making the most of new technologies are key to boost the country’s productivity and efficiency. KTN has a pivotal role to play in bringing innovative solutions to the market. Legislation encouraging the adoption of these new technologies is essential to remain competitive on the global stage.

  • Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (DCMS) to extend 5G mobile coverage to the majority of the UK population by 2027 and introduce new safety standards for digital devices manufacturers, importers and distributors to protect consumers from cyber-attacks. Contact Richard Foggie to learn more about our work on 5G and IoT.
  • Electronic Trade Documents Bill (DCMS) enabling greater digitisation of trade-related paperwork, putting electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents, increasing efficiency and lowering administration costs and paper waste.

Other bills that might indirectly affect the innovation ecosystem and its institutions are:

  • Higher Education Bill (DfE) to enable the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, providing individuals with a loan entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education (£37,000) that they can use over their lifetime for a wider range of studies, including shorter and technical courses.
  • Draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (BEIS & DCMS) to create a new competition regime between social media and large tech firms, and to strengthen consumer rights, protecting them from scams.
  • Online Safety Bill (DCMS) to enforce social media sites to better protect users from online harm, including child sexual exploitation, racist abuse, terrorism, harmful disinformation on social media and some types of scams. Ofcom will be able to issue fines of up to £18m or 10% of global turnover.

Overall, the 2022 Queen’s Speech is helpful in setting the general direction for the coming year, with flagship programmes such as ‘Levelling Up’, ‘Net Zero’ and the post-Brexit regulatory reform at the forefront of the Government’s efforts. There was a small reference to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), to the £20 billion R&D investment per year by 2024-25 commitment, as well as to the intention of improving the current R&D tax reliefs. All eyes are now on the next Budget to see how the Government intends to take these forward.

Additional Resources:
Queen’s Speech transcript
Full Queen’s Speech document

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