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Government allocates £200m to hi-tech development centres

Government allocates £200m to hi-tech development centres

Rural broadband pledge will be fleshed out by end of year

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The government has promised £200 million funding to new centres aimed at promoting development in technology and launching successful British hi-tech firms.

Meanwhile, it said that it will reveal in December the details of a £530 million pledge to help rollout fibre optic broadband to businesses and homes in rural areas.

Prime minister David Cameron said today that the Technology and Innovation Centres will “sit between universities and businesses, bringing the two together”. The idea is to encourage investment, share knowledge and create jobs.

“These centres will be great for research, great for business, and they’re going to put Britain back at the top table for innovation,” he said. “There has been a surge in new, young, high-growth, highly innovative firms.”

He hinted at a possible releaxtion of immigration caps, adding that the government "will not impede [businesses] from attracting the best talent from around the world".

Citing the fast rise in recent decades of Apple, Cisco, Google and Facebook to becoming multibillion dollar companies, Cameron said he hoped the funding would help British industry to do the same.

The centres are part of a £200 billion sum amassed from the public and private sectors for a “National Infrastructure Plan”, aimed at delivering what Cameron called “the right framework for growth in which British business can thrive and compete with the rest of the world”.

The plan is focused on aiding the science, broadband, low carbon and transport industries, which will create the basis on which other industries can grow more effectively, he said.

The government also pledged to outline details in December of £530 million pledge, made in last week's Spending Review, to help rollout fibre optic broadband to rural areas. The investment goes alongside a multibillion pound commitment the government claims it has secured from private industry, including a prior commitment from BT of £2.5 billion.

In the Spending Review, Chancellor George Osborne said the public sector spending on broadband would be aided by £300 million to be taken from the BBC licence fee, and would fund trials in the Highlands, Cumberland and Herefordshire. Fibre optic broadband will eventually be wired to two million households and businesses, where the government said the telecoms industry would take “longer to reach”.

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