UK to go industrial with new fund

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund alongside plans to invest £2bn a year in technology R&D by 2020.

The UK government intends to launch a fund to finance innovations with commercial potential in fields where the UK has a proven scientific strength, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Tuesday.

Speaking at business advocacy group Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s annual conference, May said the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will target sectors such as robotics, artificial intelligence, industrial biotechnology, medical technology, satellites and advanced materials manufacturing.

A new public body, UK Research and Innovation, which was set up to unify the country's research and innovation funding system, will oversee the fund, the size of which has not been disclosed.

The scheme was disclosed as one of three initiatives intended to bolster the commercialisation of key technologies and strengthen research and development in the UK.

The government also plans to spend an extra £2bn ($2.5bn) a year on R&D by 2020 as part of a new industrial strategy, and to review current tax incentives for R&D. HM Treasury will examine whether the existing R&D tax credit regime, worth close to £2.5bn a year, can be strengthened to promote innovation.

May told the CBI: “Our modern industrial strategy will be ambitious for business and ambitious for Britain. It is a new way of thinking for government – a new approach.

“It is about government 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.”

Image of No 10 Downing Street courtesy of the Prime Minister's Office.

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