Vince Cable to unveil science and engineering innovation plans

“Critical as it is to have a healthy, profitable private sector, it will not, on its own, generate large scale innovation in areas where there are higher risks and wider benefits,” Cable will say. “That requires a commitment to public investment in science and innovation.”

Furthermore, he is expected to call for the government to double the £500m funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

“Doubling annual innovation spend could bring its resources closer to £1bn,” he will say. “It would enable the Catapult network to be deepened and widened and lift some of the crippling barriers to private funding.”

But with the declaration that “we still need to do more” Cable will also unveil three government backed projects to boost science and engineering funding in order to compete on a global scale.

Some £30m of funding will be given to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), who will launch two research programmes involving Rolls-Royce, Tata Steel and GKN to develop aero engines and identify defects in critical infrastructure.

The other programme is an agreement between the Medical Research Council and seven global drug firms to allow UK researchers access to a virtual library of pharmaceutical compounds.

The third is a £11.5m Centrum building in Norwich designed to enable businesses to interact with scientists and researchers in the health sector.

Mr Cable will describe the announcements as “critically important” but say that they “do not go far enough.” “They 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 will add: “Alongside tax incentives for R&D, public investment is also part of the solution to our chronic private sector under-investment.”

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