£500m boost for UK science sector to be announced in Wednesday’s Budget
The upcoming budget will likely see Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured) allocate £500m to boost the British science sector and bolster high-tech industries in the UK.
The aim is to support “trailblazers” in sectors like 5G, electric vehicles, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI).
It is thought that Hammond will allocate some £500m from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to encourage UK innovators to better compete on a global stage.
The Chancellor is expected to make £270m available for a research and development challenge intended to boost the ability to operate in the most extreme and hazardous environments by developing AI, and robots, for off-shore and nuclear energy, space, and deep mining.
The move is also seen as a way to develop speedier ways of manufacturing medicine.
The Budget is expected to see £90m given to fund 1,000 PhD places, and £200m to support new fellowships for researchers.
Hammond is also likely to speed-up the national roll-out of “full-fibre” broadband.
The Government looks set to encourage private firms to invest in full-fibre networks by introducing vouchers for local businesses to incentivise take-up where new networks are built, and upgrading connections to public buildings, such as schools and hospitals.
The Budget continues a focus on technology and infrastructure that was also present in last November's Autumn’s statement which offered funding for research and development, digital rail signalling and broadband networks.
Earl Yardley, director at Industrial Vision Systems which develops products featuring AI, said: “These announcements will ensure that UK manufacturing is placed at the centre of a better-balanced economy and demonstrates that investment in cutting edge industrial automation and artificial intelligence will drive manufacturing growth for years to come.
“Investment in skills today will pay dividends for generations to come, enabling the UK to harness the technological innovations to deliver projects that improve business and communities and thus deliver economic growth.
“Adoption of automation technology is growing rapidly and at Industrial Vision Systems we have witnessed clear evidence that UK manufacturers in sectors such as automotive, electrical, and pharmaceutical, are adopting standard manufacturing principles which have been used in German manufacturing for many years, and this has resulted in a transition which has seen the performance of the manufacturing sector in the UK change significantly through continuous investment, and all for the better.
“UK factories continue to make products that are more competitive now than at any time in the modern era. This investment in the engineers of tomorrow along with cutting edge industrial automation ensures we are heading in the right path to make Britain the world leader in artificial intelligence and robotics.”