The government has unveiled a suite of funding packages to boost innovation and published an R&D roadmap to support efforts to cement the UK as a world-leading ‘science superpower’.
In a series of announcements at the end of June, the government announced a total of £680 million in new innovation projects:
- £416 million to support seven cutting-edge R&D projects around the country, including £44 million to develop autonomous and electric vehicles, and £33 million to develop artificial intelligence (AI), automation and smart packaging technologies for food production.
- £191 million for a Sustainable Innovation Fund via Innovate UK, open to companies needing support to keep cutting-edge projects alive and drive innovations that will help the UK recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable manner.
- £73.5 million to support the recovery of the UK automotive sector by funding the development of innovative green technologies such as recyclable batteries and state-of-the-art motors for electric vehicles.
Announcing the Sustainable Innovation Fund, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
"Our country is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge businesses that turn ingenious ideas into new technologies every day. That’s why we’re backing our innovators and risk-takers with new investment so they can recover and grow out of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am urging businesses in all parts of the UK to come forward and pitch their state-of-the-art ideas to us, so we can work together to power the UK’s economic recovery.”
Meanwhile, the government has also launched a new R&D Roadmap, setting out its vision for how it intends to increase public R&D spending to at least 2.4 per cent of UK GDP by 2027, and £22 billion a year by 2024.
The Roadmap outlines priorities for supporting ground-breaking research, attracting research talent and cutting ‘unnecessary red tap’ to drive innovation in the recovery from COVID-19.
Professor Karen Holford, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering, commented:
“This is unquestionably a time of uncertainty and challenge for research and innovation in the UK, yet we are also faced with a great opportunity to build back better with R&D at the heart of the economy. Investing in R&D is investing in the future.”