The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the first steps of an Industrial Strategy in the Autumn Statement, by investing an additional £2 billion government funding per year in research and development by the end of this Parliament. The investment is intended to help the UK remain an attractive place for businesses to invest in innovative research.
In a speech at the CBI annual conference on 21 November, Prime Minister Theresa May said investing in research and development will help to put Britain at the cutting edge of science and technology and make it the ‘go-to place’ for scientists, innovators and tech investors. In addition a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will direct some of this investment to scientific research and the development of a number of priority technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, industrial biotechnology, satellites, advanced materials manufacturing and medical technology.
The Autumn Statement also allocated £1 billion to support the roll out of full-fibre broadband and trialling 5G networks, and a promise of major new investment in transport infrastructure. This includes spending £1.1 billion to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads and public transport, and £450 million on trialling railway digital signalling technology. A further £390 million will be invested in future transport technology such as driverless cars and reducing the emissions of public transport.
The announcements have been welcomed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Full details of the Autumn Statement are at gov.uk/government/topical-events/autumn-statement-2016. The Prime Minister’s speech at the CBI annual conference can be found here gov.uk/government/speeches/