To solve the pressing challenges in today’s world, we need a wide range of people and ideas across research areas to see the development of world-leading innovation.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the following grounds: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, race, religion/belief, sex (gender) and, sexual orientation.
These are known as “protected characteristics”. Therefore equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) need to be at the forefront of our minds – even when applying for grants. The funding bodies, such as UKRI, design assessment of applications to be sensitive to different needs and cultures. This reflects the need to support different types of research, from basic or strategic research to adventurous or multidisciplinary research.
It is evident from our experience working with clients across a range of sectors and developments that success hinges on EDI being embedded throughout the research and innovation lifecycle. Inclusive innovation refers to including people, places, and industries in innovation processes and activities, bringing underrepresented groups into work in innovative sectors.
There is a great deal of research demonstrating that diversity is beneficial for the performance of teams (e.g., Jones et al (2020)†). Complex problems are more likely to be solved when many perspectives are acknowledged. In fact, diversity drives innovation – when we limit who can contribute, we in turn limit what problems we can solve. A lack of diversity in design, testing, and implementation can lead to tragic outcomes.
Shocking examples of a lack of diversity or bias in research and innovation include a gap in terms of diagnosing heart attacks in women compared to men, and blood oxygen monitors being less accurate when used on patients with darker skin.
As well as bringing diversity into the process of innovating, inclusive innovation can also be thought of in terms of innovative products or services, enabling inclusion to members of society. This includes funding for technologies that address social issues such as improving agricultural productivity by using artificial lighting to encourage food growth in extreme climates or alleviating loneliness for ageing demographics through time banking.
This is reflected in the funding landscape, with competitions designed to target the solution of a social challenge often faced by a particular group. An example is the Women in Innovation Awards, where women with exciting, innovative ideas who will inspire others can apply for a £50,000 grant and bespoke business support. There are also many female-led companies applying for other competitions, who utilize Granted Consultancy’s team of funding experts. An example of this is Entec Nutrition, led by Dr Olivia Champion, who received a grant of ~£200,000 from Innovate UK’s Smart ISCF Transforming Food Production competition. Entec Nutrition is designing a highly efficient production facility for insect-based products.
If you would like to ensure EDI for your innovation project is explained in a language the funder can understand, Granted Consultancy’s team of innovation funding experts can manage the entire grant application process – from start to finish. Get in touch for over a decade of advice on developing grant applications. We are here to help.
†Jones, G., Chirino Chace, B., & Wright, J. (2020). ‘Cultural Diversity Drives Innovation: Empowering Teams for Success’, International Journal of Innovation Science, 12 (3), pp.323-343, DOI: 10.1108/IJIS-04-2020-0042