Cash promised for tech initiatives in Autumn Statement

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond has announced a number of tech focused initiatives in his Autumn Statement.

Perhaps the biggest announcement made surrounded £400m that will be made available to “innovative small businesses” through venture capital funds to help start-ups stay and grow in Britain.

“I am taking a first step to tackle the long-standing problem of our fastest growing technology firms being snapped up by bigger companies, rather than growing to scale,” said Hammond.

“[This will be achieved] by injecting an additional £400m into venture capital funds through the British Business Bank, unlocking £1bn of new finance for growing firms.”


Further announcements

Meanwhile, the Department for International Trade (DIT) will provide £500,000 a year for fintech specialists and plans were revealed for £390m to be invested in future transport technology. That sum includes a £100m investment in “testing infrastructure for driverless cars”. He added that £450m would go on trailing “digital signaling on our railways”.

The chancellor also reconfirmed prime minister Theresa May’s recent promise that the government would pump £2bn a year into research and development (R&D) by 2021.

He also announced a £23bn national productivity investment fund, which will be spent on innovation and infrastructure in sectors such as housing, transport, digital communications and research over the next five years.


Generally positive

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Charlotte Holloway, policy director at techUK, stated: “A Match-fit Britain must be a Tech-fit Britain, and today the Chancellor gives UK tech a series of welcome announcements. The Chancellor’s focus on backing tech and unleashing a new wave of productivity is exactly the vision needed for an uncertain period ahead.

“Investment in innovation is absolutely critical for driving tech-led growth and productivity, and it’s great to see the £2bn extra investment in R&D for new technologies by 2021 and a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund to give a focal point to the level of the UK’s national ambition. Similarly, £1bn to boost the UK’s leadership in 5G and fibre networks can help ensure the UK connectivity credentials shift from good to great, aided by a welcome rates relief for new fibre network rollout.

“Government has rightly taken action to mediate uncertainty arising on the European Investment Fund for start-ups and venture capital, by allocating £400m into British Business Bank specifically for UK scaling tech companies.

“Building on the UK’s competitive edge in science and tech, plans to invest £100m to develop autonomous vehicles, as well as greater support for UK fintech abroad, will help play to UK strengths and reputation internationally.

“However, there was a real gap when it came to additional support for boosting the UK’s digital skills. Similarly, there was a missed opportunity to ensure that the benefits of digital are at the heart of the Government’s devolution ambitions. We will be looking to the Government to reconsider these areas in the next Budget.”

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