Innovative UK businesses must be given a greater opportunity to thrive and the Government must commit itself to spending more on research and development to deliver an economy fit for the 21st century. Evolving innovations, new technologies and developing expertise can help tackle many of today’s greatest challenges, while delivering more jobs and prosperity across the UK.
A new report from the CBI calls for a commitment to spending 3% of GDP on R&D by 2025 – a joint target to be met by the private sector and government. UK innovation spending is currently at 1.7% of GDP, well below the spending of many international rivals.
Tom Thackray, CBI Innovation Director, said: “With Article 50 just around the corner and international competition catching us up, now is the time for firms to get innovating and get ahead.
“So UK business and government must start thinking what our economy needs to look like in the years ahead and set us on the road to higher spending in R&D.
“From self-driving vehicles and medical advances to the next generation of long-life battery energy storage, new technologies will shape the course of the next decade.
“Our business innovators are an essential ingredient to the future success of the UK.”
Businesses want to see the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund help spur greater collaboration between different sectors, supply chains, universities and firms of all sizes. Investing in innovation brings economic and social benefits that help improve lives and communities, meaning more first-rate firms, more jobs and attracting foreign investment.
Tom Thackray added: “We have a proud tradition of innovation and it’s essential that they continue to get on and show resilience as we strike a new relationship with the EU in the coming years.
“UK innovation has some great strengths – including ground-breaking research at our universities, but we need to get better at turning these into final products.
“For years, the UK has under-invested and this country’s spending on R&D has stagnated as more countries race ahead. We want to see a long-term commitment to business and government spending 3% of GDP on R&D.
“We want to see the Government and business community putting innovation at the very heart of our economic future. The Government has already taken positive steps and the new Industrial Strategy will provide a genuine opportunity to take a leap forward.”
On the next steps to bolster the science and innovation ecosystem, the CBI is also calling for:
- The Government to explore what long-term incentives could be used to draw and retain science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates into teaching
Ensure regulations are fit-for-purpose in sectors where disruptive firms and technologies are situated (e.g. travel and tech) to provide greater clarity for start-ups and offer a level playing field
- Improvements in public service procurement to allow businesses to help Government achieve their aims of improving outcomes and support sustainable public services
- The Government to work with partners across the UK to ensure that the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund complements existing initiatives and meets the needs of firms on the ground.