Business Secretary Vince Cable has unveiled three projects to boost science and engineering businesses, helping them to compete in global markets.
In a speech today, Dr Cable emphasised the need for government funding to foster “large scale innovation in areas where there are higher risks and wider benefits”.
He also said government should double innovation spending from the Technology Strategy Board, bringing the total “closer to £1 billion”.
Among the latest funding initiatives, £30 million will go towards two research programmes to develop aero engines and identify defects in critical infrastructure. The programmes are part of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and involve Rolls-Royce, Tata Steel and GKN.
Meanwhile, £11.5 million of public money will help fund the Centrum building in Norwich, which is being designed to help businesses interact with scientists and researchers in the health sector.
But Dr Cable hinted that more was in the pipeline, saying today’s announcements “do not address the UK’s under-investment in innovation and they do not reflect the scale of the step-change we need to make.”
He added: “Alongside tax incentives for R&D, public investment is also part of the solution to our chronic private sector under-investment.”
Engineering lobby group EEF welcomed the news, but said it should not be a “one-off”. Lee Hopely, chief economist at the organisation, said: “The UK is playing catch up when it comes to government support for innovation.
“There will be many other pressures on public finances in the next Parliament. However, we would like to see additional support for innovation.”