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Innovation Without Limits

Innovate UK CEO Indro Mukerjee

Innovate UK conference on supporting innovators who are disabled

by Indro Mukerjee, CEO Innovate UK

The Innovate UK team is committed to help build the skills and talent pipeline necessary to drive successful innovation by better enabling opportunities for diverse talent which is often overlooked or not made to feel included. 

So, we were proud to develop and host a conference with the aim of better understanding the needs of innovators who have a disability. 

Chaired by Philip Connolly, a leading disability rights campaigner, the conference brought together experts from business, disability support groups, government and across Innovate UK with the aim of better understanding and awareness which would lead to positive action. 

It was so powerful to learn from many lived experiences of innovators who are disabled as well as the disability support groups who participated. It was so humbling to learn about challenges and perceptions from their viewpoints. And it was so illuminating to see the system through their eyes.

As we went through the conference, we openly examined our Innovate UK systems and ways of working so that we could better support innovators with a disability, and we were mindful throughout that not all disabilities are visible or properly understood.

I feel passionately about helping to create a truly inclusive system for innovation in the UK, which allows and inspires diverse innovators to want to get involved by starting, joining, or developing innovative businesses. 

The societal and economic rationale for doing this is clear and compelling. Indeed, better inclusion of diverse talent would be a key competitive advantage for the UK. We are missing out in the UK by not capitalising on the diverse pool of talent available to us for innovation. 
Our research has highlighted the significant potential to increase the participation of innovators with a disability. Realising this potential now, and for the future, through the creation of new opportunities will be an important focus within a broader, ambitious diversity and inclusion initiative that we are developing. 

The Innovate UK conference was a significant step in what will be a journey of improvement, awareness, and inclusivity for us as well as the wider innovation system. We want to raise awareness of what needs to change and want to share and inspire other organisations. 

The conference showed a huge desire and need to help create change and we are now working on an action plan as a result of the inputs we received and which we will publish and share.

It’s now all about action and impact. I’m committed to making a difference and so is the Innovate UK team. 

We’re pleased to have been able to work with many partners in the conference but realise that there will be many other important views, ideas that we should be benefiting from. So, we would like to build a community of people who would like to help build a better way to support innovators with disabilities. If you would like to get involved/ offer your help/ be updated/ join in etc, please contact us on edi@iuk.ukri.org.

Together we can align and scale the impact of our collective support, create more opportunities for diverse innovators and build a more open and fairer innovation system.

 

For more information:

The Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation report

Our 'Inclusive Innovation: looking forward to the next normal' blog 

And our news story about The Innovate UK Plan for Action for Business Innovation