As a result of his experience as a venture capitalist, David became aware of the severe disadvantages UK start ups suffered as a result of the absence of a UK equivalent to the US procurement based, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme.
In 2004, with the support of Anne Campbell, MP for Cambridge, he launched a Private Members Bill campaign to get something similar established in the UK.
This had wide support from leading UK scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capital capitalists. Gordon Brown’s 2005 Budget included a commitment (“£100m guaranteed”) to establish such a programme.
David later advised John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills 2007 to 2009, on implementation. But despite repeated public commitments by senior Ministers from both major parties, including George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer 2010 to 2016, and Theresa May, Prime Minister 2016 to 2019, it has been remarkably difficult for Downing Street to get a really meaningful programme established across the key spending departments involved.
Innovate UK, custodian of the SBRI continues to champion its expansion. See its 2022 review .
David’s most recent contributions to the innovation policy debate include proposals for possible solutions to this dilemma.
David’s attempts, with Malcolm Harbour MEP, to persuade the EU to establish something broadly similar to the US SBIR programme at EU level eventually led in 2013 to the creation of the EU SME Instrument (renamed the EIC Accelerator under Horizon Europe).