Last Autumn the Government established a significant National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) providing over £23 billion investment between 2017-18 and 2021-22. This week it was announced that the NPIF will invest £740 million in digital infrastructure by 2020-21, to support the development and rollout of next generation broadband.
The Government also published, just after the Budget, their 5G strategy. It sets out “a new National 5G Innovation Network to trial and demonstrate 5G applications. The first phase will invest up to £16 million in a cutting edge 5G facility with the technology to run the trials. Funding for future trials will be awarded on a competitive basis.
The move to give business rates to local government also impacts digital with the Chancellor saying that “…it is certainly true, in the medium term that we have to find a better way of taxing the digital part of the economy.”
Building on the Government’s Industrial Strategy, the Budget “focuses on creating a highly skilled workforce” with £300 million investment to fund research talent including 1,000 PhD places and fellowships supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. A further £270 million will be invested to “keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless vehicles.” All of which was broadly welcomed by Lord Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.