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Government commits to R&D boost

The UK will see its biggest ever increase in research and development investment and a new fund to transform transport connections within city regions across the country according to the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy’s aim to improve productivity and create better and higher-paying jobs across the UK May has said that the Government will work with industry to boost spending on R&D to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, which could increase public and private R&D investment by nearly £80 billion over the next 10 years.

May has also announced a £1.7 billion investment to create a Transforming Cities Fund that will improve transport links and promote local growth within city regions, placing cities at the heart of the UK’s upcoming industrial strategy.

This investment will see public R&D spending increase as a share of GDP for each of the next five years, bringing investment back to levels that were last seen in the 1980s.

“The Government's ambition and delivery is admirable,” according to CaSE Executive Director, Dr Sarah Main and in cash terms it certainly is.

However, Main makes the point that large sums of this new investment are being directed to strategic programmes through new and untested modes of funding, which makes it vitally important that they are monitored carefully.

The UK needs a thriving research base but part of a healthy research base also includes immigration and regulatory systems that will enable us to compete globally and tap into over £8bn of globally-mobile R&D budgets.

Next week the long waited for Industrial Strategy White Paper will be published and will announce four Grand Challenges that reflect global trends that will shape our future: artificial intelligence and the data economy; clean growth; healthy ageing; and the future of mobility.

The UK appears to be well placed to benefit from these trends.

The talking is done; the funding appears to be in place and the global trends identified. A few years ago Tony Blair was elected on the slogan 'Education! Education! Education!' Perhaps, the UK Government should now be held to account with the slogan, "Delivery! Delivery! Delivery!".....let's hope so.

Author
Neil Tyler

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