A new National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) commissioned MORI-poll has revealed 70% of the public believe innovation is the best way to solve economic and social problems, yet only 40% say the UK has an environment where innovation can flourish.

An alarming 44% of British adults believe they are “not very” or “not at all innovative” and four times as many people say their employer does not provide enough support to foster innovation than those with an employer that does. Surprisingly, those working in the public sector thought they were given more opportunity to be innovative in the workplace than those in the private sector.

There is both a gender and social gap apparent in UK innovation. More than twice as many people from the AB social grade believe they have had innovative ideas applicable in their workplace than those in the DE social grade (56% to 22% respectively). The poll also found that twice as many men as women believe they are “very innovative”.

Over 2,000 people were surveyed during October by MORI for the survey, which also revealed 68% of UK senior executives believe that entrepreneurial behaviour and entrepreneurs are not highly regarded in this country, compared with the global average of 41%. Only South Korea ranks lower.

Commenting on the research, released to coincide with the launch of its annual showcase, NESTA chief executive, Jonathan Kestenbaum said: “We are clear that innovation will be the defining issue for this country’s competitiveness and quality of life over the next decade.”

NESTA is launching a new five-year plan to transform the UK’s capacity for innovation. It uses a national endowment of over £300m to provide early-stage funding, influence policy and develop a UK culture where innovation can flourish. This includes a new £50 million investment fund targeted at early-stage innovative ventures. The event will showcase fifty of the UK’s most innovative young companies and individuals supported by NESTA as well as highlighting new activities.