Chancellor puts R&D promotion on agenda

Chancellor puts R&D promotion on agenda
Alex Mayhew-Smith The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Stephen Byars has said that the next Budget will be one to encourage high-tech, innovative companies. Byars, speaking at a public hearing of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said the Chancellor Gordon Brown would be giving careful thought to a Treasury proposal that would allow tax credits. “There is a very strong case to be made for tax credits to be given [to companies] for R&D expenditure,” said Byars. Byars, who answered questions from the committee of MPs as to how the UK can promote science-based innovation and entrepreneurialship, said the government would be launching an implementation plan this month for its Competitiveness White Paper. The White Paper contains 75 changes, including a 20 per cent increase in the DTI’s innovation budget to ?220m. “There is a great danger that in the initial fanfare of publicity it will be left behind on a dusty shelf. Within it there are specific proposals, including on how to remove the stigma of failure and how to attract money from the private sector,” said Byars. Another necessary change to promote high-tech start-ups is in the culture, said Byars. In the US 68 per cent of university leavers said they would be interested in starting their own businesses. In the UK the figure is only seven per cent. Byars also highlighted the government’s recent ?25m initiative to launch eight centres of excellence under a scheme called the Science Enterprise Challenge as evidence of its commitment to promote an entrepreneurial culture. “We want to see centres of excellence in the teaching of entrepreneurship and commercialisation of our research which match the best in the world,” said science minister Lord Sainsbury at the launch.


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