£1bn investment to amplify UK technology

The UK’s technology sector is to receive a major boost through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with the first tranche of funding revealed.

Smart Factories
Robotics & artificial intelligence is among the first of six focus areas set to receive a share of the £23bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will commit more than £1bn over the coming four years focusing on six key UK technology areas, according to Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Announced in the 2017 Spring Budget, the first three tranches set to receive ISCF investment have now been revealed, as well as the amount allocate to each:  healthcare & medicine (£197m), batteries for clean & flexible energy storage (£246m), and robotics & artificial intelligence (£93m).

The remaining three areas are: self-driving vehicles, manufacturing & materials of the future, and satellites & space technology.

The government worked in partnership with businesses and academia to identify core industrial challenges, where research and innovation can help unlock potential markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.

It’s hoped that the investment in cutting-edge technologies will help to create jobs and raise living standards, as well as boosting progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and the nation.

Clark commented: “As part of our plan for Britain this government wants to create a modern industrial strategy to support the key sectors of our economy and spread jobs, prosperity and opportunity around the whole country.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond noted: “Addressing the UK’s productivity gap is key to raising living standards and ensuring we are match fit to compete in the global economy. That is why I created the £23bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.”

The government has committed to increase investments in research and development by £4.7bn over the next four years. The extra £2bn per year is the biggest increase in total government R&D investment since records began in 1979.

Innovate UK has already confirmed that it will be supporting a £10m first wave of projects through the ISCF in each of the six areas with a number of smaller projects, starting in 2017-18.

Thirty-five projects have been selected for funding with innovations in projects ranging from fast chargers for electric vehicles and using 3D scanning technology to aid care for hospital patients, to the use of aerospace technology in the creation of biomedical prosthetics.

To support delivery of the ISCF, the government also announced at the Spring Budget that it will invest £250m over the next four years to continue to build the pipeline of high-skilled research talent.

This will include an additional 1,000 PhD places and support for new fellowships for early and mid-career researchers, both in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy. This will be supplemented with targeted investment to attract global talent from overseas to the UK, helping to maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in science and research.