Autumn Statement - a perspective from innovation

Paul O'Collins
Head of Innovation | EEN South West
29th November 2016

The £2bn earmarked for supporting RD&I is a most welcome announcement in the chancellor’s speech as is the proposed £1bn support to development of and research into 5G networking.

This is important as we prepare for the negotiating table with Brussels and sends a clear message that UK RD&I will not be disadvantaged financially by Brexit.

The UK is a fantastic place for innovation, not only do we have some of the world's foremost Universities and Research establishments we also have an incredibly advantageous tax system, particularly  the R and D tax credits and Patent Box schemes for research performing organisations. These schemes make the UK one of the most financially attractive tax bases for RD&I performing organisations.

Access to finance has always been one of the key challenges for innovators, and hopefully this proposed £2bn will go directly to support those businesses that are the Googles and Amazons and Pfizers of tomorrow.

Now for the difficult bit…

Collaborative and open Innovation has for years fostered amazing strides in development and research.

International collaboration between premier universities and research performing organisations across Europe and globally has spawned significant progress in everything from Cancer Research to composites development.

5G development i.e. the 5th Generation of mobile telephony is a perfect example of the challenges we potentially face post Brexit. 5G will not be a tweak on 4G - it has to be something fundamentally different. The current 3G and 4G network architecture will not be bale to cope with the demands of the billions of devices that are proposed to be attached to mobile networks over the next few years. 5G mobile technology is at the heart of the internet of things, robotics, driverless cars, digital health and many of the other developing technologies that are currently exciting us all.

Voice and Data mobility is an international issue and needs to be embraced internationally. The UK must be at the top table in helping design and implement the new communication standards and architectures for the planet.

Going forward it is important that our researchers and innovators are not impeded from participating in, or leading, international syndicates tackling key Societal and scientific challenges. Brexit might mean our relationship with Europe's Horizon 2020 Research programmes is challenged, and whilst the focus of the implications of Brexit to date has been on UK trade and skills, our Brexit negotiations must address the requirement for international collaborative research and development particularly through our ability to access to the Horizon 2020 programme or its successor.

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