Here's what's holding back innovation in Britain

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Britain should double the number of visas on offer to innovators, streamline patent registration and give more prominent national honours to inventors, says a new report from the think tank the Adam Smith Institute that raises proposals to make Britain more open to innovation and entrepreneurship.

The paper argues that Britain needs to expand the current Tier one visa that allows people of exceptional talent from outside the European Economic Area to come to the country. The present scheme allows 500 innovators to apply for a visa in the spring and autumn of each year. By increasing the number by a further 1000 visas the United Kingdom would enhance its reputation as a country that is open to youth and talent.

Dr. Pirie, founder of the free market Adam Smith Institute, suggests that the UK should emphasise its openness to global talent with this expansion and promote the places at universities, companies and embassies across the world. This, he suggests, would help show Britain ‘welcomes and rewards innovators’ that want to move to the country and make it easier to employers to access global talent.

Elsewhere the paper suggests giving further national recognition to innovators, combining innovation awards with the annual honours system to give prominence to inventors. This would help build a national recognition of entrepreneurship and encourage more people to enter the fields where Britain is at the cutting edge of research and business.

A register of new innovations that gave limited protections to innovators’ ownership of their ideas before going through the patent application process would allow innovators to publicize their idea without fear of it being stolen and avoiding the lengthy and costly patent process. This would, Dr. Pirie argues, greatly speed up the development and cross-fertilisation of new ideas and help Britain tackle its productivity crisis.

By opening the door to the innovators of the world, and seeing that their contributions are recorded and rewarded, the United Kingdom can encourage a ‘race to the top’ and ensure that ‘innovators feel their contributions are valued and they themselves are honoured’, the paper says.

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