The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Europe's largest engineering body is calling on the UK government to ensure its procurement policies are used to maximum effect to drive innovation through the use of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). The call to action from the IET follows its hosting of a high level meeting, which brought together officials from across government to discuss the role of engineering companies in SBRI.

Tony Whitehead, Director of Policy at the IET said, "Although SBRI has already been successful, more government departments need to make use of the scheme if it is to expand and reach its full potential. The UK's engineering sector includes many high-tech, innovative SMEs who can help government departments by creating technological solutions to some of the challenges faced in delivering better, cost effective public services.

"SBRI provides a way for the government to support high-tech start-ups and SMEs which are key both for stimulating economic growth and rebalancing the economy. The challenge now is to increase the extent to which government departments make use of SBRI."

SBRI is based on the US government's National Science Foundation scheme, which has provided numerous new innovative solutions for public services as well as providing many companies with a financial basis on which they can then build. Companies involved in the schemes have generated cumulative total sales of $2.2 B directly and $6.9 B indirectly attributable to their involvement in the scheme.