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A CBI survey has found that 70% of UK businesses are planning to increase or maintain their innovation budget to ensure the country’s industry continues to thrive after Brexit.
According to the survey, businesses believe UK industry must step up its game to compete in a world market. Some 65% of the businesses surveyed said the top priorities were to increase collaboration and partnership, while 68% saw greater access to technical skills as key.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said the UK needed to work hard “to become the front-runner in global innovation”.
“Innovation is the nucleus of future economic and social development, so it is encouraging that seven out of 10 firms will keep up – or even raise – their spending on new technologies and work practices to grow their business,” she said.
“While the UK has many innovation strengths to build on, businesses are worried that the country is too much of a follower in the global economy, with the lack of access to technical skills a grave concern for ambitious firms.”
Speaking at the CBI annual conference in London today (21 November), CBI president Paul Drechsler said businesses were “100% committed to making the best of Brexit”. He also called on the government to be clearer on its plans for exiting the European Union.
“We’re not asking for a running commentary, but we are looking for clarity and, above all, a plan,” he said.
“For many firms, it’s not about a hard or soft Brexit, but a smooth Brexit.”
Responding to Drechsler’s call for the government to keep businesses in the loop on Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would take its time “to get our negotiating position clear before we proceed” and that it was not the government’s role to “provide a running commentary on every twist and turn, but to acknowledge that businesses and others need some clarity”.
May added: “So where I can set out our plans without prejudicing the negotiations to come, I will.”
The CBI has also called on the government to invest a minimum of 3% of GDP on research and development spend by 2025 and to double the budget of Innovate UK. In today’s speech, May promised an extra £2bn a year investment in R&D.