The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement was an important one for tech in general and contained several interesting boosts for companies in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Infrastructure sectors. The most eye catching was the creation of a National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) which will target four areas: digital communications, transport, research and development and housing. It will provide £23bn in funding between 2017-18 and 2021-22. There was also the announcement of a wide-ranging study to be undertaken by the National Infrastructure Commission into technology and infrastructure.
As part of the NIPF, the Government will invest over £740m by 2020-21 in digital communications. The aim is to “bring faster and more reliable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK, boost the next generation of mobile connectivity and keep the UK in the forefront of the development of the Internet of Things”.
- Rail: The NPIF will allocate £450m to trial digital signalling technology in order to expand capacity and improve reliability.
- Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The NPIF will fund a £100 million for new CAV testing infrastructure. This is in line with what SmarterUK called for in our response to the Lords Inquiry into autonomous vehicles.
- Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles: There will be £230 million from the NPIF to support ULEVs with £80m being invested in charging infrastructure and £150m for supporting low emission buses and taxis.
Whilst there was no additional funding for smart city pilots, the Government recommitted itself to the devolution agenda. This included the confirmation of investment funds for both the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine
Whilst it was lost amongst other headlines the Chancellor announced that he had instructed the National Infrastructure Commission to undertake a study into how “new technology could enhance our infrastructure”. The remit is to:
- “Identify emerging technologies have the most potential in terms of optimising the management, performance and maintenance of existing and future infrastructure assets to support economic growth;
- Make recommendations to government on what actions it should consider to support the deployment of those technologies across infrastructure areas and sectors, including identifying where trial approaches may be appropriate.”
The study is set to be published by the end of 2017 and will be in addition to the National Infrastructure Assessment. We will be engaging with both of these studies.
Read further content regarding the Autumn Statement: