Responding to last week’s budget, John Downes, Chief Executive Officer of Langtree and Chairman of Sci-Tech Daresbury, said:
“It was pleasing to hear the Chancellor last week refer to the importance of “imagination of the entrepreneurs” at being at the forefront of the future prosperity of the UK. In his budget, there were several announcements that bode well for such entrepreneurs driving forward the UK’s aim of becoming a scientific superpower.
“Sci-Tech Daresbury has a proud record of welcoming global businesses and individual entrepreneurs to its campus in order to realise their ambitions Therefore the creation of the Global Britain Investment Fund to encourage foreign investment into UK businesses and attract overseas talent – and the Scale Up Visa to ease the journey of highly skilled individuals into the UK – could prove crucial in ensuring we can continue to attract the brightest talents from around the world.
“The increase in R&D spending to £20bn by the end of this parliament and the rise in funding to Innovate UK’s budget to £1bn will both be critical. However, if the government is to achieve its levelling up agenda, it’s essential a geographically targeted approach is taken with this investment. I would hope they consider how extra support for science and technology ecosystems in the North West – our businesses, academic and public sector organisations – could unlock the potential in our region, allowing us to address the inequalities that the pandemic has magnified. While the whole country has taken an unprecedented hit, areas such as our own Liverpool City Region have suffered disproportionately.
“In tandem with the initiatives announced to attract people to our country, it was welcome to see action taken to address talent and skills within the existing and future UK workforce – namely, the skills shortages that could limit our country’s ability to reach its innovation potential. Consequently, the £3bn investment that will be given to post-16 education to boost technical training and the increase in spending on skills boot camps in areas such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity is hugely welcome.
“The Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) at Sci-Tech Daresbury- supported by £172m funding from the government and an in-kind contribution of £38m from IBM Research – will be fundamental to supporting the UK’s efforts in the technologies of the future such as quantum computing. The Hartree Centre’s ability and that more broadly of Sci-Tech Daresbury’s stakeholder, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, to provide access to critical facilities and expertise will be crucial to helping accelerate the growth of the tech companies on our campus. Our recent campus survey revealed Sci-Tech Daresbury is above the national average in terms of attracting and retaining talent, and we look forward to working with the government to share our insights on how the country as a whole can tackle the skills challenges it currently faces.
“Throughout the difficulties of the past year, the excellence of our cutting edge businesses have served as a beacon of hope. While we must take last week’s announcements with a sense of caution and the small print must be examined, this budget serves as a vote of confidence to the brilliant firms within Sci-Tech Daresbury and our wider network that they will be critical in helping the UK achieve its destiny of becoming a global scientific superpower that supports a flourishing and fair economy at home.”