Government will establish R&D investment fund to back new technologies

Theresa May called for a more state-led approach to boosting business investment

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Indy Politics

The Government will establish a new investment fund to help support new technologies such as robotics and biotechnology, Theresa May will announce today.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI’s) annual conference the Prime Minister will pledge to create an “Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund”, and pledge “substantial real terms increases” in Government R&D investment.

Ms May, who said the active state-led approach would help new technologies emerge, will also pledge to review tax breaks to encourage private sector research and development. 

“It is not about propping up failing industries or picking winners, but creating the conditions where winners can emerge and grow,” she said.

“It is about backing those winners all the way, to encourage them to invest in the long-term future of Britain. And about delivering jobs and economic growth to every community and corner of the country.”

She added that the “new approach” was “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.”

The fund will be controlled by UK Research Innovation and would take control of some of the UK’s government investment, set to be worth about £2bn a year by 2020.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will also speak at the same conference, where he will pledge to “use public intervention to unleash the creativity and potential of entrepreneurial Britain”.

The pair’s speeches effectively welcome in a new orthodoxy in British economic policy – an explicit acceptance by both parties that state intervention can bear results.

On ITV1’s Peston on Sunday programme yesterday morning, shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis welcomed the Conservatives’’new conversion to some aspects of what had previously been mostly a Labour policy.

“We welcome them coming onto our territory; I mean, for the last 30 or 40 years it’s been very much on their territory, the kind of terms of discussion on the economy and so on has been very much set from Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan,” he said.