29 Jan 2024
by Rory Daniels

Institutions of Innovation: Innovate UK (week 4)

Learn more about how Innovate UK and techUK have collaborated on driving innovation.

'Institutions of Innovation' is a new series of monthly interviews with the institutions driving the UK’s innovation policy.

This is piecing together the UK's innovation landscape; setting out the key actors, what they do, where they sit and how industry can engage, including through techUK.

This month features a special weekly miniseries dedicated to the UK's national innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The institution's responses have been provided by Esra Kasapoglu, Director of AI and Data Economy.

Esra is leading the development of AI, Digital Technologies and Data Economy and manages the innovation portfolio supporting UK businesses to grow and develop. 

She has extensive experience of leading technology and innovation programmes working for the Big Tech and global technology and consulting firms. Much of her time spent in pioneering novel innovations and shaping the future of business in multiple industries. 

Esra brings her experience, thought leadership and strategic insights to multiple innovation and advisory boards on which she sits. She provides counsel to Boards, Senior Leaders, and C-suite on building an innovation culture in environments that are changing at pace.

Week 4: How have Innovate UK and techUK collaborated on driving innovation?

Can you name any examples of how Innovate UK has worked with techUK in the past? If so, what have you enjoyed, valued, or learned during the process?

Our Innovation Leads have engaged in several techUK workshops in the past and contributed to reports. 

For example, our Telecom Innovation Lead participated in techUK’s UK SPF Cluster 4 Workshops and Cloud natives technologies webinar and has found them very useful for learning about the industry trends and the hot topics that affect the policy making at the national and international levels. We share techUK’s vision of shaping policy, accelerating innovation, and developing markets, and we have Innovation experts who can offer our insights on various topics, such as AI, Quantum, 5G Coms, Cloud Computing, Connected Places, Digital Twins, and more. We are keen to collaborate with techUK to support innovation in UK.

techUK was also a member of the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce, which was commissioned by BEIS, Ofgem and Innovate UK in the UK’s first Energy Digitalisation Strategy. Its aim was to continue our focus on modernising the energy system to unlock flexibility and drive clean growth towards net zero emissions by 2050. In January 2022, the Taskforce published its report, setting out six overarching recommendations, each with a suite of actions for BEIS, Ofgem and industry to spur a modern, decarbonised digital energy system. techUK organised numerous workshops with its members to contribute to the recommendations of the taskforce.

On 24 March 2022, we held a session with techUK and its members to identify key energy network-related challenge areas to the new iteration of the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). This £450 million fund in energy network innovation is now up and running. The first round of SIF closed in November 2021 with the successful projects kicking off their Discovery Phase in March. techUK’s Teodora Kaneva, Head of Programme for Smart Infrastructure and Systems, is a member of the strategic advisory group for the SIF. You can find more information about the 40 projects that are receiving funding in the first round here.

On 13 May 2022, we organised an industry engagement workshop with The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) alongside techUK, KTN and ZENZIC. The session covered CCAV’s plans for the coming years relating to connected and automated mobility and provided opportunity to discuss the target areas which need the most support from Government and what methods would be best to deliver them. We gave a broad update alongside CCAV on plans for commercial deployments of CAM in both public and private locations, and the mobility of people and goods, feasibility studies into mass transport solutions and supply chain support.

On 27 Nov 2023 we published a report into Cyber Physical Infrastructure (CPI) featuring Julian David, techUK’s CEO, who offers a dedicated foreword. This report looks at how CPI can transform our industries and details the steps policymakers and industry can take to realise the benefits. The report comes following an in-depth consultation with DSIT across industry with key stakeholders, including techUK, government bodies and researchers. The work builds upon the techUK’s activity across CPI such as the Apollo Protocol. The report ‘Responsive Infrastructure - better quality data makes for better decisions’ can be viewed here.

Innovate UK works with techUK in their role as joint partners with UKspace in the cross-industry groups, Position, Navigation and Timing Committee and Satellite Telecommunications Committee. The committees provide vital contact with industry and stakeholders in these sectors, and the opportunity to provide updates direct to the sector on Innovate UK activity and funding opportunities. Beyond these committees, we also have regular catchups with key teams in techUK. One, for example, features techUK’s Digital Twin Group and IUK’s Digital Twin Lead.

techUK has been a long-standing partner in the promotion and support of EU framework programmes to UK industry. This is achieved through National Contact Points (NCPs) speaking to individual committees and groups and the hosting of webinars to highlight funding opportunities in the digital and technology domains. Our NCPs provide briefings to Tech UK members on topics including opportunities arising from the Horizon Europe programme.

In March 2021, we collaborated with techUK, who hosted a member briefing on the Horizon Europe Programme. This was an opportunity for members to learn about the funding opportunities available under Horizon Europe – prior to our association that was agreed in September 2023 - and how it can help support the development of new innovative ideas, products, and services. Our NCPs, who represented two of the HE Cluster areas; Digital, Industry & Space and Civil Security for Society, spoke about a wide range of subject areas, including Cyber Security, AI, Data, Cloud/Edge computing, Blockchain, AR/VR, Telecommunications (including space/satellite) and digital space applications. techUK has since continued to share IUK opportunities to its members and wider community.

And a reminder: How can techUK’s 1000+ industry members best engage with Innovate UK to achieve this vision?

  • Attend community or sector workshops to shape future research and innovation programmes,
  • Get involved in workshops and scoping activities organised by our programmes as they design future investments and strategies,
  • Join Innovate UK, UKRI, or other councils’ such as EPSRC’s Strategic Advisory Boards,
  • The techUK’s industry members can reach out to Innovate UK teams directly or through Innovate UK KTN and Innovate UK EDGE,
  • Visit Home | the innovation hub (ukri.org) to find out about the funding opportunities, support available and events in the Innovation Hub,
  • Leverage already established relationships between Innovate UK and techUK, through:
    • Sue Daley - Director, Technology & Innovation
    • Neil Ross - Associate Director, Policy
    • Teodora Kaneva - Head of Smart Infrastructure and Systems
    • Sophie James - Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy
    • Tales Gaspar - Programme Manager, UK SPF and Satellite
  • In addition, Innovate UK, UKRI or other council members can engage with techUK members at their industry events or collaborate directly through techUK working groups, be sure to invite them!

You can find out more about Innovate UK by visiting their website here.

Redefining web 3.0: Emerging economies, metaverse technologies, and the new age of the internet (with Shoosmiths)

Want to hear Esra's thoughts on gaming, metaverse & web 3.0 technologies?

There are still a few tickets left for techUK's Redefining web 3.0 event, taking place at Shoosmiths' London offices on 31 Jan.

Attendees will learn how these technologies will interact to spark innovative business models and new opportunities.

Sign up free to attend the presentations, panel discussions, networking session and tech demo area.

Click below to view our other Supercharging Innovation series:

techUK – Supercharging UK Tech and Innovation

The opportunities of innovation are endless. Automation, IoT, AI, Edge, Quantum, Drones and High Performance Computing all have the power to transform the UK. techUK members lead the development of these technologies. Together we are working with Government and other stakeholders to address tech innovation priorities and build an innovation ecosystem that will benefit people, society, economy and the planet - and supercharge the UK as a global leader in tech and innovation.

For more information, or to get in touch, please visit our Innovation Hub and click ‘contact us’. 





Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies, techUK

Rory joined techUK in June 2023 after three years in the Civil Service on its Fast Stream leadership development programme.

During this time, Rory worked on the Government's response to Covid-19 (NHS Test & Trace), school funding strategy (Department for Education) and international climate and nature policy (Cabinet Office). He also tackled the social care crisis whilst on secondment to techUK's Health and Social Care programme in 2022.

Before this, Rory worked in the House of Commons and House of Lords alongside completing degrees in Political Economy and Global Politics.

Today, he is techUK's Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, covering dozens of technologies including metaverse, drones, future materials, robotics, blockchain, space technologies, nanotechnology, gaming tech and Web3.0.

[email protected]

Read lessmore