Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the CBI conference in London for the first time and put tech and tax at the forefront of her vision for the UK economy.
Citing ‘innovation’ and technologies such as robotics May is to tell the conference that a £2bn tech investment strategy fund will help place that UK as a tech economy leader.
The new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, overseen by UK Research and Innovation, will back projects covering a number of priority technologies.
Despite its strengths in science, Britain has until now been relatively weak on commercialisation, meaning that all too often ideas developed in this country end up being commercialised elsewhere, the Prime Minister will say.
“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 and there is a significant economic opportunity for commercialisation,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.
“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. That is the ambition – and we need your help to put it into practice,” reports of the speech released in advance said.
“We believe in free markets. They are the means by which we spread opportunity and lift people out of poverty. We believe in capitalism – the means by which we drive economic growth, putting people into work to provide for their families. And we believe in business – the entrepreneurs and the innovators who employ millions of people up and down this country – the basis for our prosperity.”
- substantial real terms increases in government investment worth £2billion per year by 2020 for research and development, to ensure British business remains at the cutting edge of scientific and technological discovery.
- a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to back priority technologies – such as robotics and biotechnology – where the UK has the potential to turn strengths in research into a global industrial and commercial lead.
- a review of current R&D tax incentives to ensure the global competitiveness of the UK as a home for scientists, innovators and tech investors.
In a letter to the Financial Times, May set out her vision for working in partnership with business in Britain –
She wrote: “Britain will be the global go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors. We will invest an extra £2bn a year in R&D by the end of this parliament; set up an Industrial Strategy Challenge fund to back scientific research and development of technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and industrial biotechnology; and review our tax regime to encourage and support innovation.”
“We will not just back the innovators, but the long-term investors, too. For while the UK ranks third in the OECD for the number of start-ups we create, we are 13th for the number that go on to become scaled-up businesses. The government will act to turn our bright start-ups into successful scale-ups, launching a patient capital review led by the Treasury that will examine how we can break down the obstacles to long-term investment in innovative firms.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also due to address the conference.