Tech leaders welcome regional innovation funding

Katie Gallagher on the BBC

Tech leaders in Manchester have welcomed the likely increase in funding for key tech projects outlined in Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement.

Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital, said: “There are quite a few positives to come out of today’s Autumn Statement announcements which will support our regional tech sector. These include a further £500m committed to fund more innovation centres for AI and simplified R&D Credits, as well as making full expensing permanent for all businesses.

“We also welcome the extra £50m funding over two years for apprentices in engineering and other high growth sectors. However, we believe that this must be accompanied by Apprenticeship Levy reform if we are to ensure that apprenticeships are successful, scalable and attractive to companies at all stages of growth.

“Overall, we would have liked to have seen more policies which enable all businesses and all workers to adopt digital technologies and opportunities for upskilling. Our region has a very strong tech sector, which with the right policies, can deliver an important boost to the local economy and create levers and opportunities to lift up the whole region.”

Jessica Bowles, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Bruntwood, said sustained investment in R&D and innovation across the UK’s growth sectors is critical to the future of the economy.

“In particular the confirmation of the Greater Manchester and West Midlands Investment Zones – of which two of our most significant and long-term projects, ID Manchester and Birmingham Knowledge Quarter, will play a central role – is a major step forward. With the Liverpool, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Investment Zones previously announced, there is no time to lose in progressing these and others into delivery as soon as possible – including in Glasgow where we are advocating for our transformation of the city’s iconic Met Tower to play a key part.

“These initiatives have a greater chance of success if supported by the genuine devolution of power. With that in mind, we welcome the new MoUs on the single settlement funding arrangements for Greater Manchester and West Midlands Combined Authorities. More responsibility, powers and funding to our city regions is a proven way to generate quicker returns and grow the economy in a sustainable way, so we hope to see the government progress the Trailblazer Deals at pace and extend them to other areas.

“More long-term, we would now like to see the government set out a detailed strategy to enable science and technology businesses to align themselves with its objective of becoming a science superpower by 2030.

“Industries like life sciences will benefit from the £4.5bn funding pot announced for strategic manufacturing alongside the government’s continued focus on evolving the tax regime for R&D-led SMEs. We also welcome the new Mansion House Reforms which will facilitate pension fund investment into high growth sectors, including life sciences.

“We will be continuing to invest in the UK’s knowledge economy, championing growth and delivery working alongside our city partners, universities and central government.”

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