New research and development centres for internet, communications and green technology will be launched with government funding, it has been announced.
Lord Mandelson, business secretary, said yesterday that a network of "technology and innovation centres" will help grow the industry, and aid with the development of products than can be sold to markets worth billions of pounds. This would help address a problem where universities research technology but often cannot access the funds to develop it in practice, he said.
Growth in IT and telecoms industries, as well as other science and engineering jobs, was an important part of this week’s Budget.
The exact funding has not been announced. The government’s Technology Strategy Board will work with the technology industry and government research councils, in order to provide a plan by the Pre-Budget Report addressing processes, priority areas, and the scale of investment required.
The new centres will also address other technology including stem cell medicine, electronics, fuel cells and advanced manufacturing.
The announcement comes in response to a report by technology entrepreneur Hermann Hauser, which stated that Britain has world class research capabilities. Establishing centres, each with up to £10 million annual funding, would "enable the UK to attract and anchor the knowledge-intensive activities" of global firms, he said.
"Too often in this country we have been brilliant at research and let others walk away with the commercial benefits of development,” said Mandelson. "If we are to develop new industrial capabilities in Britain, we have to get more D out of our R&D."
"Hauser is right that these centres need long term, predictable funding and I am committed to making that happen."
The news comes as the government reiterated its support for the rollout of smart grid technology. It announced that eight companies – the National Grid, Energy Optimizers, Arqiva, Highview Power Storage, Rltec, Smart Grid Solutions, Scottish Hydro Electric Power and SP Distribution – have received funding of up to a million pounds.
The companies will develop technology including storage, distribution load management, demand response controls and a network platform for a future smart grid site in Glasgow.