Government promises £345m in tech investment
The Government has promised to invest £345 million into technology, targeting mobile “not-spots”, graphene and high-performance computing.
Speaking at today’s Conservative Party conference, chancellor George Osborne laid out the Government’s economic plans, including the technology investment.
Osborne promised the Government would invest £150m to extend mobile coverage to 99% of the country by working with Ofcom to add more masts in rural areas, bringing coverage to an extra six million people.
The investment cheered rural activists including the Country Land and Business Association, which said it showed “the Government is taking the countryside seriously and recognising that the rural economy has a lot to offer”.
Let’s stop thinking that the only growth that can happen in Britain takes place in one industry in one corner of our country
However, Ovum analyst Jeremy Green wondered how the funding would be spent.
“It’s hard to know what the justification is for giving public money to profitable private companies – most of them foreign-owned – to help them to do something that the regulatory framework and licence obligations should be inducing them to do anyway,” he said.
Another £145m will be invested to “make the UK a leader in supercomputing”, the chancellor announced, and a further £50m will be used to start a Graphene Globe Research and Technology Hub.
That centre will look to commercialise the wonder computing material that last year won a Nobel prize for its creators, a pair of Russian researchers based at Manchester University.
“The inventors could have gone anywhere in the world to conduct their research, but they chose the University of Manchester,” Osborne said.
“Now countries like Singapore, Korea and America are luring them with lucrative offers to move their research overseas. But they want to stay here, in Britain.”
“They think it’s the best country in the world for them and their work,” he added. “Let’s stop thinking that the only growth that can happen in Britain takes place in one industry in one corner of our country.”
Osborne also revealed that Lancashire and Hull and Humber have been named the two latest Enterprise Zones, ensuring funding – and fast broadband – for the areas.