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CBI wants government to focus on innovation spend

The Confederation of British Industry wants government to create a strategy to boost technology adoption and continue to digitise public services

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on government to prioritise investment in innovation and technologies ahead of the spending review.

The CBI said in its autumn statement to Her Majesty’s Treasury that it wants government to continue to build on the work of the Government Digital Service (GDS), highlighting that digitising “the remaining 22% of transactional services” will yield savings and “transform the way users interact with public services”.

“While full data is not available, based on the GDS’s figures on the 801 transactional services across central government, the CBI estimates that completing the digitisation of these services could save an estimated £800m each year,” it said.

The CBI also wants ministers to double the budget for Innovate UK and raise the research and development spend to 3% of GDP.

John Cridland, director-general of CBI, said research carried out by the organisation shows that innovation investment “has never been more important”.

“We must not be complacent while our economy is doing well. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels while our peers pace ahead,” he said.

“Instead we need to build on our research excellence by fuelling the UK’s innovation ecosystem with investment, fresh ideas and skills.

“With the UK’s research and development spending the lowest among the G8, we are falling behind our international competitors and must take action so we can lead from the front.”

The CBI also called on the government to set out a coherent framework to make sure innovation boosts the economy to produce more “in the long term”.

“Public funding on the development of new ideas into products through Innovate UK sends a clear message to businesses at home and abroad that the UK is open for business innovation,” the CBI said.

It called on government to make the UK an “innovation leader” and put in place a strategy to boost the adoption of new technologies.

“While the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 from the World Economic Forum ranks the UK fourth on the availability of technologies, we slip to 14th on the actual adoption of these technologies by firms and the diffusion of innovations across the economy – behind top-tier innovative nations such as Finland and Germany,” it said.

The CBI also wants government to work with businesses to increase the understanding of the importance of new technologies and the opportunity investing in them brings to the UK.

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