The best ideas often come from attempts to solve real problems* rather than research labs. The key gap in the UK is core marketing; many directors and engineers do not have grounding in marketing and see it as just promotion or communication.
It’s a common misconception that innovation will stem from investment. It is not correct to state that businesses grew owing to investment; they grew because they can meet market needs and this is enabled through investment.
Innovation can deliver business growth and higher profits. Indeed, in a competitive environment, you must innovate to raise profits, but innovation in itself does not deliver profits. Innovation delivers lower costs, the ability to command higher prices, the differentiation to break into new markets, etc. Innovation poorly targeted will reduce profits.
From my own work with start-ups and large multinationals, I know that it is often difficult for engineers to take a market focused position (and vice versa). The key is to ensure we blend technology and marketing to achieve market led innovation.
* Hence the proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention”.