Business Technology

Published

The Budget 2015: £740m investment for cities of the future, Internet of Things and broadband

7 Mins

Large British organisations are continuing to encourage the adoption of technological support across the country, as recently demonstrated by the British Retail Consortium, Google and O2 among the firms that created a five-year plan to digitally “reinvigorate UK high streets” while calling on the government to support the movement.

As such, Osborne’s speech today including a significant focus on investing in technology. “We’re also committing almost £140 million to world class research across the UK into the infrastructure and cities of the future, and giving our national research institutes new budget freedoms,” he said.

“And we’ll invest in what is known as the Internet of Things. This is the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances. So should – to use a ridiculous example – someone have two kitchens, they will be able to control both fridges from the same mobile phone.”

Further details revealed in the Budget 2015 document said “£40 million for demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for Internet of Things technologies in healthcare and social care, and Smart Cities” will be allocated.

It claims “Smart City technology could prove transformative, as well as providing significant opportunities for supporting jobs and growth. To ensure that the UK can take advantage of this technology local areas will need to be empowered to make decisions, and collaborations will need to be built between cities, universities and business. The government will support a competition to fund a Smart Cities demonstrator as part of the Internet of Things programme to trial and showcase these new technologies.”

An example of the Internet of Things was covered on Real Business earlier this month, with a report that dental firm Oral-B is looking for business partners for its Bluetooth-connected electric toothbrush line.

Neil Crockett, CEO, Digital Catapult, said: “The Internet of Things is a key area of growth for the UK’s digital economy; a factor recognised by the government with today’s investment announcement.

“We are proud to be a partner in this project, enabling collaboration between innovators, organisations and academics who, together, can put the UK at the forefront of a new wave of business models that will make the UK more competitive and a better place to live. It means that the UK can be IoT leaders rather than just IoT consumers.”

Read more on the Budget 2015:

Furthering the commitment Osborne acknowledged that powerful broadband is the key to make the developments work, claiming that the Conservatives have “transformed the digital infrastructure of Britain over the last five years” as 80 per cent of the population have super-fast broadband while there are 6m existing 4G users.

A further fund of up to £600m will be made available as part of the ongoing strategy to keep in front, supporting infrastructure costs to improve mobile networks and their internet connections.

The wider broadband market will also be enhanced to better serve the UK with speeds of at least 100mbps, including rural areas where small businesses have been outraged with poor and unreliable internet access. Osborne, said: “We’ll test the latest satellite technology so we reach the remotest communities. We’ll provide funding for WiFi in our public libraries, and expand broadband vouchers to many more cities, so no-one is excluded.”

This falls in line with Virgin Media’s partnership with the Cambridge County Council to extend free WiFi across the county for businesses and the public, as announced on 17 March.

“With success of the five year plan to transform digital infrastructure, it’s great to hear The Chancellor continues to show commitment to connectivity. With recent flexible working initiatives in place and a clear cultural shift towards this new way of working, this will only go further to improve connectivity for those in the office and those who work remotely,” James Campanini, VP EMEA at Blue Jeans, said to Real Business.

John Allan, national chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, added: “Digital connectivity is critical for small businesses.  The announcement of a target download speed of 100 Mbps matches our recommendations. Of equal importance is the increase of the Universal Service Obligation to 5 Mbps which is an important first step to help rural businesses access the minimum standards of digital services they so urgently require.”

Andy Griffiths, president of Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, concluded: “Samsung believes that the internet of things presents significant opportunities for businesses such as ours, as well as for the wider UK economy. The next few years will be a pivotal time for the UK if it wants to take a lead in this competitive space. 

“We see the UK as a key market and, importantly, as the best place for innovation in Europe.  The UK has been the research and development hub for Europe since 1991 and over the years Samsung has invested in a number of key projects to advance UK digital capacity. This is a welcome confirmation of the UK’s continuing ambition.”

Share this story

The Budget 2015: Annual Investment Allowance will not go back to £25,000, says George Osborne
The Budget 2015: New “Help to Grow” programme and changes to EIS, SEIS and VCTs
Send this to a friend