Backing the innovators - 5 CBI policy wins on innovation and digital
In the last few weeks government has made a series of announcements describing how it wants to back the innovators. Here we take a look at how our ideas have supported their thinking.
1) Ambitious spending plans for R&D
Investment levels in research and development are a key indicator of the strength of a country’s innovation ecosystem. Companies that consistently invest are on average 13% more productive than those which don’t, and more likely to export. So having called for government to target 3% of GDP in joint public/private R&D expenditure, government plans for an extra £2 billion a year by the end of this Parliament are welcome. This is an increase of around 20% to total government spend in this space - the largest since 1979 – and clear recognition of the role that science and innovation play in a modern, productive economy.
2) An uptick in funding for Innovate UK
As the UK’s national innovation agency Innovate UK forms a critical part of our innovation ecosystem and is highly valued by CBI members. With many more businesses in need of funding than that available we have long argued that Innovate UK could achieve greater impact with more resources. Alongside co-ownership of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund considerable increases in the level of grant funding for Innovate UK (as announced at Autumn Statement) will ensure that the body can build on its existing successes. We’ll be continuing in our work with Innovate UK to ensure the best possible outcome.
3) Exploration of increased support for R&D tax credits
R&D tax credit schemes are a vital part of the UK’s wider innovation ecosystem, attracting investment from overseas. But when asked to prioritise what action government should take to improve the innovation landscape, 40% of businesses wanted to see tax incentives improved further still. Supercharging R&D tax credits was one of the CBI’s key innovation asks in our Autumn Statement (AS) submission, so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for further details on the Chancellor’s commitment to review them.
4) Investment in local and digital infrastructure
The UK already has good digital infrastructure, but we can’t rest on our laurels. Requirements for better internet access will only grow with the adoption of new technologies. Commitments to support the market to roll out of faster and more reliable broadband unveiled in the Autumn Statement include £400 million for a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, helping to support business growth and productivity improvements across the UK.
5) Marketing the UK’s innovation ecosystem overseas
We’ve also seen announcements echoing government’s support for our innovation ecosystem beyond those in the AS. The FCO’s new Innovation is GREAT campaign is a prime example, and will see a unique partnership with McLaren to help showcase the UK’s innovative culture. Having previously highlighted the potential to build on our international business brand by leveraging assets in the innovation space, we’re looking forward to seeing the campaign up and running.
For further information please get in touch with Jessica Dickinson, Senior Policy Adviser in the CBI's Innovation Directorate.