The government has announced a £1bn investment into cutting-edge technologies to create jobs and raise living standards.

Business Secretary Greg Clark outlined how the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will focus on six key areas: healthcare and medicine, robotics and artificial intelligence, batteries for clean and flexible energy storage, self-driving vehicles, manufacturing and materials of the future, and satellites and space technology.

He also committed to increasing investment in research and development by £4.7 billion over the next 4 years.

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The extra £2 billion per year by 2020 to 2021 is the biggest increase in total government R&D investment since records began in 1979.

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The government has worked with businesses and academics to identify core industrial challenges, where research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.

Through the ISCF, government will bring together the UK’s world leading research with the ambitions of business to meet these challenges head-on.

Funding allocations are designed to help deliver a step-change in the UK’s ability to turn strengths in research into commercialised products.

The first three areas set to receive investment through the fund – healthcare and medicine, clean and flexible energy, and robotics and artificial intelligence – were announced at the 2017 Spring Budget.

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The Business Secretary has today confirmed the total investment in each field (subject to business case approval):
Pending business case approval, the total investment in each field has been confirmed as follows:

  • Clean and flexible energy or the ‘Faraday Challenge’: An investment of £246 million over 4 years to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy, to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles
  • Cutting-edge healthcare and medicine: An investment of £197 million over 4 years to develop first-of-a-kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments, building on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI): An investment of £93 million over 4 years to make industry and public services more productive, by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments which occur in off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining

Greg Clark also confirmed that, subject to business case approval, the 3 additional areas that will be receiving ISCF grants in the next 4 years.

  • Driverless cars: To ensure the UK’s reputation as a world-leader in driverless car technology, a sector predicted to be worth £63 billion by 2035, the government will be investing a further £38 million in new collaborative research and development projects, working with industry partners to develop the next generation of AI and control systems need to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the driverless cars revolution
  • Manufacturing and future materials: Through a new £26 million fund for research and development programmes, the government will support the UK’s civil aerospace industry, a sector which employs over 230,000 people, to develop the next generation of affordable light-weight composite materials for aerospace, automotive and other advanced manufacturing sectors
  • Satellites and space technology: Building on the UK’s global reputation for satellite technology, a growth industry that underpins mobile technology, the ISCF will provide funding for a £99 million satellite test facility supporting new launch technologies and the manufacturing and testing capabilities that will allow the UK to construct future satellites and deliver payloads into orbit

Clark said: “As part of our Plan for Britain this government wants to create a modern Industrial Strategy to support the key sectors of our economy and spread jobs, prosperity and opportunity around the whole country.

“Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund we will provide an enormous boost to our world-class research and development sector, to help turn brilliant British innovations into new businesses and good jobs.

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“The UK is home to some of the world’s best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond added: “Addressing the UK’s productivity gap is key to raising living standards and ensuring we are match fit to compete in the global economy.

“That is why I created the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund.

“As we leave the EU, we are determined to help Britain’s innovators compete with the best and seize the opportunities ahead, and this money will help advance our position as a global leader in developing cutting-edge technologies.”