Technology was a recurring theme in today’s (23 November) Autumn Statement, as Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled a raft of funding increases to help encourage long term investment in UK tech, innovation, infrastructure and skills, set against a back drop of concerns over low productivity and the long shadow cast by Brexit.
The Chancellor said the Government will by 2020-21 spend £2bn more per year on funding universities and businesses with R&D projects, backing scientific research and development of technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and industrial biotechnology.
FinTech also received an investment boost of £500,000 a year available to slightly nondescript “specialists” in FinTech, and the government has commissioned an annual ‘State of UK FinTech’ report on key metrics for investors.
The government has agreed with the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group that they will modernise their guidance on electronic ID verification to support the use of technology to access financial services.
A further £400 million will be injected by the state-owned British Business Bank into innovative firms planning to scale up, helping to prevent the UK’s fastest growing technology firms being “snapped up” by larger companies.
In addition, the Chancellor said that the Government will review the tax environment for R&D to look at ways to build on the introduction of the ‘above the line’ R&D tax credit to make the UK more competitive.
Hammond also pledged that the government will invest £1bn to accelerate private investment in fibre networks to support 5G trials.
The budget follows a pledge by prime minister Theresa May at the CBI Annual Conference on 21 November, that Britain will be the global go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors.