U.K. Plans to Spend $260 Million on Innovation in Spring Budget
The U.K. plans to invest 200 million pounds ($260 million) in supercomputers, lasers, and genetic research to support science and technology as the country prepares to leave the European Union. According to a Treasury statement on Sunday, the move is part of the Spring Statement to be unveiled by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday, with a long-term plan for research and innovation infrastructure to be published in the autumn. The chancellor’s statement will come during what could be a pivotal few days for Brexit. Hammond could offer an extra 5 billion pounds to end austerity if Parliament backs Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal set for a vote on Tuesday, a move that would release cash held back in case of a no-deal.
The government already pledged a further 20 billion pounds for the National Health Service while committing to protect defense and overseas aid from real-term cuts. Should Britain leave the bloc without a deal, further spending restraint may be necessary to balance the budget by 2020. Under the science and tech investment plan, laser technology in Oxfordshire will benefit from the highest allocation with 81 million pounds to further enhance a photonics industry. Edinburgh will receive a 79 million-pound supercomputer to run tests for the medical, climate, and aerospace industries, while 45 million pounds targets genetic research in Cambridge to increase its computing and storage capacity. The research and technology industry is worth 36 billion pounds to the economy, according to the Treasury.