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The UK government will invest an extra £2bn a year in research and development (R&D) to help create a strong future for Britain, according to Prime Minister Theresa May.
Speaking at the CBI annual conference in London today (21 November), May set out plans to grow the country’s technology and innovation developments.
“In the autumn statement on Wednesday, we will commit to a substantial real-terms increase in government investment in R&D, investing an extra £2bn a year by the end of this parliament to help put post-Brexit Britain at the cutting edge of science and tech,” she said.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, UK businesses’ spending on R&D grew to £20.9bn in 2015.
Some of the new R&D investment will come through an industrial strategy challenge fund, which will be overseen by UK Research and Innovation. May said the fund would support innovative technology such as robotics and artificial intelligence
She also promised further tax relief for innovative businesses and promised to “review the support we give innovative businesses through the tax system”.
May added: “We need to back them and turn research strengths into commercial success. That means not only investing more in research and development, but ensuring we invest that money wisely, supporting technologies and sectors that have the potential to deliver long-term benefits for Britain.”
She said the government aimed to have the lowest corporate tax rates of the G20 countries, and “a tax system that is profoundly pro-innovation”.
The Prime Minister said Brexit gave the country an “historic opportunity to signal the turn of change”, and promised a new way of thinking for government that was about “stepping up, not stepping back, building on our strengths and helping Britain overcome the long-standing challenges in our economy that have held us back for too long”.
May said she wanted Britain to be the global “go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors”. Commenting on Facebook’s announcement that it would increase its UK worforce by 500 next year, May said companies were already committing to growing in the UK.
She also promised to make it easier for SMEs and startups and added: “The government can also step up to help drive innovative procurement, particularly for small businesses. We will review our small business research initiative to look how we can increase its impact and give innovators their first break.”
The government aims for 33% of all procurement spending to go to SMEs by 2020. ................................................................................