A key focus of the Autumn Statement, and the Government’s forthcoming Industrial Strategy, is on raising productivity by encouraging innovation and technology development.
The key highlights for the Innovation and technology sector include:
- A new National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) will add £23 billion in high-value investment from 2017-18 to 2021-22, including £4.7 billion to enhance the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation. This represents an extra £2 billion per year by the end of the Parliament, an increase of around 20% to total government R&D spending.
- The NPIF will provide investment for an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; a new cross-disciplinary fund, managed by Innovate UK and the research councils, to support collaborations between business and the UK’s science base and set challenges for UK researchers to address. The NPIF will also allocate additional funding to business innovation, including a substantial increase in grant funding through Innovate UK.
- The tax environment for R&D will be reviewed to look at ways to build on the introduction of the ‘above the line’ R&D tax credit to make the UK an even more competitive place to do R&D. It is expected that further detail on the review will be announced in the New Year.
- The Biomedical Catalyst will be extended and enhanced, with additional funding of £100 million until 2020-21 being allocated to Innovate UK for this purpose. A similar sum will be provided to encourage universities to engage in technology transfer and collaboration with business.
- FinTech is another area of focus. The DIT will provide £500,000 per year for FinTech specialists, and there will be an annual ‘State of UK FinTech’ report on the key metrics for investors.
- The British Business Bank is to invest an additional £400 million in venture capital funds to unlock up to £1 billion of new investment in innovative firms looking to scale up.
- 'Future transport’ technologies will receive an additional £390 million of government investment, to support ultra-low emission vehicles, renewable fuels and connected and autonomous vehicles. 100% First Year Allowances will be available to companies investing in charging points for electric vehicles.