The report, “Ingenious Britain”, calls for an overhaul of start-up funding, a re-routing of the R&D tax credits, and fresh funding for science and technology in education.Dyson’s report was commissioned by David Cameron, who has pledged to look at each recommendation with a view to adopting them as policy if the Conservatives win the general election. “There is a real opportunity to set a new vision for our economy,” writes Sir Dyson. “To do this, a new government must take immediate action to put science and engineering at the centre of its thinking – in business, industry, education, and, crucially, in public culture.”
Financing start-upsThere is not enough entrepreneurial finance available to fund innovative UK companies. This has been exacerbated by the global recession. Government must use the power of government guarantees to encourage lenders to extend credit to small, inventive businesses.
Supporting high-tech companiesIf the UK is to compete and prosper as Europe’s leading technology exporter, we need to increase R&D investment. Tax credits must be refocused onto high-tech companies, small businesses and new start-ups in order to stimulate a new wave of technology. When the public finances allow, the rate should be increased to 200 per cent. The claim process must also be streamlined. These changes need not necessary lead to a higher overall cost to the Exchequer.
CultureThe UK’s science, engineering and manufacturing base has been neglected for decades. As a result they are undervalued and misunderstood. Government can change attitudes through encouraging research, delivering skills and backing significant infrastructure projects. It must make early and bold decisions on large-scale engineering projects to demonstrate Britain’s high-tech ability.
EducationScience, design and technology in schools have been marginalised and the UK is not producing enough scientists and engineers. We need to encourage more people to take up these subjects – and produce the best teachers to inspire them. Government should make teacher recruitment more flexible and encourage independent schools to share their expertise and experience with state schools.
UniversitiesGlobally, the UK excels at university based research, but a disjointed system means that little of our blue skis research is shared or used commercially by UK companies. Government should seek to reform how universities are funded and assessed to give them the flexibility to provide what students and companies want – such as shorter courses with industry experience. Commenting on the report, Conservative leader Cameron says: “Dyson is one of Britain’s biggest success stories, and Dyson knows better than any bureaucrat how you start a business, build it up and start selling to the world – and he’s put that knowledge into this blueprint for creating a generation of innovation and enterprise. “I’m excited about this future and I’m impatient to make it happen. From day one of a Conservative government, we’ll encourage the entrepreneurs who will start the businesses which will drive the industries which will create the high-paying jobs this country needs.” We applaud Dysons attempt to bring Britain back on track – no matter who wins the forthcoming general election, Britain needs to encourage and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
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