UK government to invest £2bn in science and technology annually until 2020
Science, technology and research are to be given a multi-billion pound boost under Prime Minister Theresa May’s new industrial strategy.
In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), May laid out plans for “substantial” real term increases in government investment worth £2bn per year by 2020.
A review of research and development tax incentives will also be launched that will aim to ensure Britain’s global competitiveness as a home for scientists, innovators and tech investors.
The new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will back “priority technologies” which includes robotics, biotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), medical technology, satellites and advanced materials manufacturing.
Her speech to the CBI, a leading business organisation in Britain, is also aimed at easing concerns among company bosses that May wants to rein them in by calling for workers on boards and promising to tackle excessive executive pay.
“Our modern Industrial Strategy will be ambitious for business and ambitious for Britain,” she said.
“It is not about propping up failing industries or picking winners, but creating the conditions where winners can emerge and grow.”
“It is about backing those winners all the way, to encourage them to invest in the long-term future of Britain. And about delivering jobs and economic growth to every community and corner of the country.”
May is facing difficult and complex negotiations with the European Union (EU) over the coming years as she tries to secure advantageous post-Brexit conditions for the UK.
Analysts predict that Britain faces slower growth next year after voting to leave the EU and the speech reveals May’s attempt to kickstart an economy in order to help those who are “just managing”.
“Government will consult on how the fund can best support emerging fields such as robotics and artificial intelligence, industrial biotechnology and medical technology, satellites, advanced materials manufacturing and other areas where the UK has a proven scientific strength,” May’s office said.
Although Britain is yet to leave the EU, the government has already started manoeuvring to reassure industry that feels uneasy about the upcoming transition.
In October, Nissan announced it would build its new Qashqai and X-Trail models in its Sunderland plant in the UK, although former Prime Minister Tony Blair later claimed that the company must have been given “strong assurances” by the government before making the commitment.
The EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager has said she does not see any concerns over Britain’s assurances to Nissan, but that she was still waiting for details to have more clarity about the case.
Vestager, whose role is to ensure companies do not unfairly benefit from subsidies granted by governments in the 28-country EU, said British authorities had yet to provide the required information.
“Before we know more, we have no concerns,” she said today while speaking to reporters.
Vestager can ask national authorities to recover subsidies that breach the bloc’s strict state aid rules. She has ordered Ireland to claw back up to €13bn (£11bn) in back taxes from iPhone maker Apple.
The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have also been told to recover millions of euros from various companies for illegal sweetheart deals.