Bruntwood SciTech Responds to the 2023 Spring Budget
By Bruntwood SciTech
Our Director of Life Sciences, Dr Kath Mackay, has shared her thoughts on what today’s Spring Budget means for the UK science and technology sector - more specifically in relation to the Government’s pursuit to achieve ‘science superpower’ status for the UK.
On R&D tax credits:
“Following the launch of the government’s new Science and Technology Framework last week, this Budget had the potential to underline its commitment to UK tech and life sciences. While there was a significant focus on incentivising innovation, many will be uncomfortable in waiting until the Autumn Statement to receive a comprehensive plan to increase investment in high-growth firms in pursuit of the UK achieving ‘science superpower’ status.
“Changes to the R&D tax credit scheme last Autumn were widely criticised so it was positive to see some of those concerns addressed through a revised scheme. However, we need to develop a system where all R&D-focused firms can benefit, and not just those at the highly intensive end of the industry.
“There will also be disappointment and, in many cases, concern regarding the £1.6bn of Horizon Europe funding that has been recovered but not yet redeployed by the Chancellor. In a week when the government acted swiftly in securing a deal to save the UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank, the hope is that we will see equally decisive action in securing Britain’s readmission to the pivotal European research programme.”
On Investment Zones:
“The new Investment Zones unveiled have the potential to strengthen the UK’s knowledge economy and, in particular, the high-growth innovation clusters that are being strategically developed in key city regions.
“As such, the decision to focus on a smaller group of well-planned, locally-led clusters centred around universities or research institutions - most notably ones we partner with in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire - rather than a broader UK-wide scheme is a sensible and welcome approach.
“Coupled with the further devolution of powers to local mayors, the UK’s ambition to become a science superpower needs us to nurture, commercialise and scale the world-class R&D being delivered in these cities as well as the traditional golden triangle. The creation of a low tax environment to encourage investment and empower entrepreneurs around these institutes is therefore an undoubtedly positive step forward.”
On Quantum & AI:
“The fresh commitment to quantum computing and artificial intelligence is a major boost, with the publication of a clear 10-year strategy broadly welcome. The £2.5bn investment, including the development of a UK-wide AI sandbox and annual prize funding, has the potential to significantly make the UK a world leader in this sector, and build on those already well established in this space such as Glasgow and Manchester. What an opportunity this is to galvanise improvements in healthcare through AI and quantum and for the life science industry to collaborate with such businesses as the lines between science and tech continue to come closer together to create new emerging technologies!”