In his budget speech today, UK chancellor George Osborne reiterated the goverment’s hopes that the high tech and high value manufacturing sector will drive the country’s economic growth in future.
Last year, the UK’s manufacturing output grew by 3.6% in 2010, he said, its fastest rate since 1994, signalling the rebalancing of the economy away from finance and services.
Osborne explained that first of four planned Technology and Innovation Centres will be focused on high value manufacturing. This centre "will integrate the activities of a number of existing high performing centres in Rotherham, Coventry, Strathclyde, Sedgeﬁeld, Redcar and Bristol".
Earlier this month, a report on the UK’s high tech manufacturing industry lead by inventor James Dyson called on the government to increase tax incentives for businesses that conduct their own research and development. In today’s budget, Osborne increased the R&D tax credit for small and medium-sized business from 130% – i.e. 130% of a company’s R&D spent is tax deductable – to 200%, and it will increase to 225% next year.
In other technology-related budget news, Osborne announced a number of enterprise zones that will grant businesses, among other perks, access to ‘superfast’ broadband services.