Science in the UK’s Spring Budget: Briefing

Posted on Mar 8, 2017

Today’s up-beat Budget announced by Britain’s chancellor Philip Hammond contained good news for science and engineering with investments of over £500 million for research talent, robotics, and electric vehicles. Here’s Matter PR’s round-up of what the Budget means for science and technology.

Electric_Car_recharging

Last month, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced an investment of £229 million to support research and innovation to deliver the UK’s Industrial Strategy. This created two new national centres, the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials and the Rosalind Franklin Institute, a centre of excellence for the life and physical sciences.

Today, the chancellor said he wants to “prepare Britain for a global future”. He made it clear that science and innovation is a key part of making Britain the “best place in the World to do business” with a range of investments worth over £500M — part of the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

“Brightest and best research talent”

The NPIF will invest a total of £250M in funding to build the pipeline of highly skilled research talent for a “growing and innovative economy”. £90M will be used to provide an additional 1000 PhD places in areas of the UK critical to the Industrial Strategy. 40% will be focused on improving collaboration between academia and business through industry partnerships. A further £160M will support new fellowships for early and mid-career researchers in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy.

Global research talent

£100M will be used to attract the best minds to the UK over the next four years to make it a world leader in science and engineering. £50M will be ring fenced for “fellowship programmes to attract global talent” and a further £50M from existing international funds will be used to attract researchers from “emerging powerhouses” such as India, China, Brazil, and Mexico.

Disruptive Tech

The chancellor announced an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) which will support collaborations between business and the UK science base. It will make an initial investment of £270M to kickstart developments that “have the potential to transform the UK’s economy” such as robotics, biotechnology, and driverless vehicles. Key areas for support include:

* Development, design, and manufacture of batteries that will power the next generation of electric vehicles and reduce air pollution.

* Robotics and AI systems for extreme and hazardous environments such as offshore energy, nuclear power, and Space.

* Medicine manufacturing technologies that accelerate patient access to new drugs and treatments.

5G and Broadband

£16M for a new 5G National Innovation Network to trial and demonstrate new 5G applications. A further £200M was announced to leverage private sector investment in fibre broadband for local initiatives.

The Budget also contained continued support for the Oil and Gas industry through a package of tax incentives and support for specialist “Maths” schools.

 

Detailed information on these announcements will be revealed in the coming days. Full analysis will appear in the next Matter PR newsletter due out at the end of March.