New Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Focuses on Tech Research & Investment

UK Government has today published its Building Our Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

Government has rightly recognised that digital transformation will be the key to delivering a truly modern and global economy. In focusing on investing in science, research & innovation, Government has highlighted the importance of delivering sector-specific funding to support business investment in R&D.

Raj Sivalingam, techUK’s Executive Director of Telecoms and Spectrum, commented: “The development of 5G technologies and applications will present significant economic opportunities for UK both domestically and globally, and presents an ideal opportunity for UK to establish leadership on key areas of strength. The UK has a strong research base in mobile technology and applications, with a range of internationally respected centres of excellence. The new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund presents an opportunity for Britain to capitalise on this strength in this area. However access to world class talent of both home grown talent and international specialists in mobile technology and networks and ‘entrepreneurial technologists’ who understand international market opportunities for 5G is crucial.

The Prime Minister has announced that the UK will create a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to help Britain capitalise on its strengths in research and innovation such as robotics, clean energy and biotechnology. This builds on the creation of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund creates a new funding stream which will enable UKRI to back technologies at all stages where the UK has the potential to take an industrial lead, from early research to commercialisation. This is additional funding and will not require reductions in existing research priorities to pay for it. Some challenges may well cut across the boundaries of existing research councils, and the creation of UKRI will enable us to take an effective overview of the development of new technologies unrestricted by traditional silos.

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will focus on challenges where:

  • the global market is potentially large, or fast growing and sustainable;
  • the UK has capabilities to meet market needs in terms of research strength and business capacity;
  • there are significant social and economic benefits; and
  • there is evidence that government support will make a difference

Based on these criteria, and analysis of the UK’s research strengths, including through the Eight Great Technologies initiative, areas from which specific challenge could be drawn include:

  • Smart, flexible and clean energy technologies (such as storage, including batteries, and demand response);
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence (including connected and autonomous vehicles and drones);
  • Satellites and space technologies;
  • Leading-edge healthcare and medicine;
  • Manufacturing processes and materials of the future;
  • Bioscience and biotechnology;
  • Quantum technologies; and
  • Transformative digital technologies including supercomputing, advanced modelling, and 5G mobile network technology.

The Industrial Strategy also mentioned the Autumn Statement commitments of investing over £1bn to promote more fibre rollout and to realise the Chancellor’s ambition ‘for the UK to be a world leader in 5G’ next generation mobile networks. This new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund and earmarked investment in the digital communications infrastructure will help the UK remain at the forefront of innovation, which is key to our economic success.

techUK are hosting a roundtable in partnership with local Government on 17 March to explore how we can collaborate to boost UK’s digital revolution and deliver world-class connectivity for all. The successful deployment of denser fibre and mobile 5G communications networks will require a shared understanding and close collaboration between local authorities and industry to a degree much higher than ever before.


The Industrial Strategy seeks initial views on the priorities for this increased investment, and UKRI will consult in more detail in early 2017.

You can read more about techUK's views on Industrial Strategy here.

Every sector is a tech sector, says Antony Walker in response to the Government's Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

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