The Liberal Democrats have set out a plan today to turbo-charge the UK’s position as a “global research powerhouse” with a £17bn research and development fund that will help level the economic playing field across all regions.
The five-year funding programme will be used to leverage private investment and ensure that national spending on research and development reaches 3% of GDP as soon as possible. The additional funding would come out of a £130 billion capital investment fund that would also support vital infrastructure projects across the country.
Part of this funding would increase investment in the Strength in Places fund, which is designed to support regional growth by investing in programmes that would help close the economic gap between regions. So far, the South East has secured investment for a major agri-tech support programme.
This could see further investment in our key sectors across Hertfordshire and the wider South East and East of England, such as life sciences, and the clustering of businesses and high value job creation around these specialisms.
Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have yet published their specific plans for business during this campaign. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has criticised both main parties for pursuing policies that are “not credible”, concluding that economic growth would be fastest under the Liberal Democrats due to their commitment to stop Brexit.
Responding to the announcement today by Shadow Business Secretary Sam Gyimah, Welwyn Hatfield Lib Dem candidate Paul Zukowskyj said: “Boosting innovation is absolutely key to driving up economic growth. Investment must be made on a case by case basis to play to our respective regional R&D strengths so that no part of the UK is left behind.
“It is clear from our fully costed, fiscally prudent manifesto that not only are we the only party for business but that our policies set out a roadmap for future generations.”
The announcement today forms part of a series of proposals to boost innovation and growth across the UK economy including:
- Stopping Brexit to maintain access to skilled workers and research funding from the EU
- Working with European neighbours to ensure tech giants and other multinationals pay their fair share of taxes, so up-and-coming entrepreneurs have a chance to compete
- Increasing the British Business Bank’s support for venture capital funds to support UK digital start-ups
- Setting up creative enterprise zones to grow the cultural output of areas across the UK