EEF welcomes Theresa May’s £2bn research fund boost

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Theresa May pledged to boost research and development funding by an extra £2bn a year
Theresa May pledged to boost research and development funding by an extra £2bn a year

Related tags: Prime minister, Research and development

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to pump an extra £2bn a year into research and development.

The prime minister revealed the funding boost would run until 2020 at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Annual Conference this morning (November 21).

She also revealed a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to “turn ​[UK] strengths in research into a global industrial and commercial lead”​, and a review of current research and development tax incentives.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy will be ambitious for business and ambitious for Britain,”​ said May. “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.”

EEF said manufacturers would take up the prime minister’s challenge of building a stronger economy. The organisation’s chief executive Terry Scuoler said the announcement was a good first step for life after Brexit.

‘Willing to pick up the gauntlet’

“This is a welcome announcement which outlines the beginnings of what a post-Brexit modern industrial strategy should look like,”​ said Scuoler. “Manufacturers are willing to pick up the gauntlet which the prime minister has thrown down and contribute to driving up the UK’s productivity performance over the long-term.

“In response, we now need to see all government departments playing their part by getting behind such a strategy in a joined-up manner, beginning with the Autumn Statement later this week.”

The CBI said businesses would welcome a progressive partnership between industry and government. It said the research and development funding boost would make sure the UK remained a “world leader”​ in innovation.

‘A powerful catalyst for investment’

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “The prime minister has laid out an ambitious and inclusive vision for the economy, placing the UK front and centre of the world stage for innovation. Alongside her backing for free, fair and open markets this will be a powerful catalyst for investment. 

“The creation of a new Challenge Fund will embed research and innovation at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy. Business will have an important role to play in outlining the challenges and working with UK Research and Innovation to coordinate different parts of the innovation ecosystem to meet them.”

Meanwhile, the food and drink sector could be £7bn better off​ if the chancellor cuts VAT in this week's Autumn Statement, claimed NFU Mutual.

Theresa May’s pledge

  • £2bn a year funding boost for research and innovation
  • New Industrial Strategy Challenge to back priority technologies
  • Review of current research and development tax incentives

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