A parliamentary report claiming the UK's science base is being held back by a lack of support from government for technological innovation will be debated next week.
The report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee suggests that the UK Government needs to do more "heavy lifting" - helping small companies grow into medium-sized enterprises rather than focusing its efforts on helping small technology companies start up.
This could be achieved by help growing small businesses access a bond market via the country's £1 billion-backed 'bank for business', first proposed by the Government last September, and possibly in partnership with the Business Growth Fund.
Called Bridging the valley of death: improving the commercialisation of research, the document also notes it is troubling how many technology companies which are set up in the UK eventually get taken over by foreign firms, so subsequent wealth and jobs are generated overseas.
"The UK's university and science sector is a global success, but the challenge for Government is how that world class academic research can be translated into commercial activity," according to Select Committee chair Andrew Miller.
He noted the panel had been encouraged by initiatives such as the creation of the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and other measures such as the Catapult funds, which set up in December 2011 and included a £180 million Biomedical Catalyst fund to bridge the ‘valley of death’ between the discovery of medical innovations and their commercialisation.
Overall however "British entrepreneurs are being badly let down by a lack of access to financial support and a system that often forces them to sell out to private equity investors or larger foreign companies to get ideas off the ground."
Smaller companies do disproportionately badly from the current UK's R&D tax credit scheme, according to the report, and suffer from a lack of access of to large-scale test and experimental production facilities.
"The Government needs to look at how it can provide the infrastructure to support innovation by ensuring small technology firms have access to finance, facilities and advice", according to Miller.
Among the measures proposed is a requirement for funds to have a proportion of European small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) equities and the restoration of the R&D Scoreboard, a source of information and analysis on the UK's private-sector R&D activity that was scrapped last year. The Bank of England should also resume its monitoring of the availability of finance to SMEs, it says.
The findings of the report will be debated at an event hosted by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) in Chester on 14 June.