Prime Minister Theresa May is to promise an extra £2bn public money per year in funding for scientific research and development by 2020 in a bid to put post-Brexit Britain at the “cutting edge” of global competition.
May is to make the promise in a speech today at the CBI annual conference in London and in advance of Wednesday’s much anticipated Autumn Statement, with commentators looking for solid plans by Westminster for how to cope with the shock of the UK’s planned departure from the EU.
Her speech, being covered by media outlets prior to her appearance at the conference, is an opportunity for her to lay out the broad shape of the government’s new industrial strategy.
This centres on a special new challenge fund, which is being set up to reflect the fact that, “Britain has firms and researchers leading in some of the most exciting fields of human discovery.
“We need to back them and turn research strengths into commercial success,” she will tell the business group’s get-together.
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Previewing the speech, the BBC says the government will also “review” the support it gives innovative firms through the tax system, as her Cabinet’s aim is “not simply for the UK to have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20, but also one that is profoundly pro-innovation”.
The CBI’s director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, told the BBC she welcomed the proposals, as business needs to create jobs and opportunities “in partnership with society”, and that “we need to think about how that works in practice”.
Commenting on the news, Tudor Aw, head of technology sector at KPMG UK, pointed out that, “Technology underpins the competiveness and development of almost every sector. It is a key battleground for most economies and the UK must ensure it is a leader in this field.
“The £2bn R&D fund for emerging tech, such as artificial intelligence and biotech, is therefore hugely encouraging, and will make a real difference to the UK being seen as a tech destination of choice for scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and tech companies.”