Downing Street promise of £2bn R&D increase applauded by sector
21 Nov 2016
Science and engineering leaders have been quick to welcome Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement today of an extra £2 billion for UK research and development in the sector.
The news was delivered during the PM’s speech to the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry, just two days ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
In a move designed to reassure British businesses in the wake of preparations for Brexit, May outlined a raft of proposals aimed at creating an industrial strategy to boost the UK’s global competitiveness.
£2 billion for tech and science investment by 2020
A review of Research & Development tax incentives
A new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support technologies such as robotics and biotechnology
Royal Academy of Engineering president, professor Ann Dowling, said: “I am delighted to see the Government’s stated aims of building an effective industrial strategy for the UK realised in this morning's announcement of increased investment in research and innovation, including a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to accelerate the growth of important engineering technologies, such as robotics and biotechnology.”
Today we’ve seen a commitment to creating an industrial strategy which supports science and innovation
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry chief executive Mike Thompson
Her words were echoed by spokesmen for other key industry associations. Professor Philip Nelson, chairman of Research Councils UK, responsible for co-ordinating distribution of government science funding. He predicted the R&D increase would close the investment gap with international competitors and reinforce the attractiveness of Britain’s research system for partners.
Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, indicated he would expect to see further results in 2017:
“We will continue to work with government to build an industrial strategy with life-sciences at its heart and look forward to further dialogue as we head towards the March Budget.”
Thompson added that the ABPI looked forward to hearing how government would ensure the UK became “the best place in the world to support the discovery, clinical development and use of innovative medicines.
“The Prime Minister has spoken about the strategic importance of the pharmaceutical industry in the UK and today we've seen a commitment to creating an industrial strategy which supports science and innovation.”
The promise by Downing Street follows lobbying by the CBI and others for substantial increases to public investment in R&D, to 3% of GDP by 2025. It currently stands at 1.7%.
Details of the Prime Minister’s CBI speech can be found here.