AIRTO welcomes the government’s Spending Round statement and commitment to 2.4% GDP for R&D

AIRTO (the Association for Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations) recently welcomed the pledge by the Prime Minister to protect world-leading research in the UK following Brexit.

AIRTO now welcomes the recent Spending Round statement by The Chancellor of the Exchequer, which committed to support investment in research and development, including an additional £30 million over the coming year for the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change, helping to meet the country’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Business Secretary subsequently welcomed this boost and the explicit commitment to the government’s ambition to achieve at least 2.4% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) for R&D by 2027. In the current climate of uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU, it is encouraging to see that science and innovation remain strong priorities for government. In recent weeks, AIRTO has been corresponding with new ministers to emphasise the issues that are of vital importance to the UK’s Innovation, Research & Technology sector, receiving a response from Jo Johnson MP before his departure, and we welcome Minister Chris Skidmore MP back to BEIS.

AIRTO has consistently offered support for the UK’s Industrial Strategy as a means to stimulate the economy beyond Brexit and we recently issued a position statement pinpointing six critical levers for government to deploy to raise levels of both public and private investment in R&D. We realise that the government has a complex task ahead, requiring difficult decisions and compromises. We welcome the recommendations of the recently published House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee report on the Balance and effectiveness of research and innovation spending (to which AIRTO gave evidence) calling for the government to publish a roadmap for reach the 2.4% goal.

AIRTO welcomes the recommendations of the latest House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee report.

Furthermore, we are calling for investment in R&D and innovation to be executed in a much smarter way, to keep pace with competitor nations. We have identified three key and interrelated recommendations of immediate importance which aim to:

i). Rebalance the research and applied development mix being undertaken to include more development activity at higher Technology Readiness Levels, (TRLs);

ii). Improve access to private finance for industry to undertake R&D, particularly in the most challenging fields;

iii). Exploit the export of UK R&D services and knowledge assets by the Innovation, Research and Technology (IRT) sector to international markets (facilitated by a strong and diverse STEM workforce).

Commenting on these latest announcements, AIRTO’s President, Professor Richard Brook OBE FREng, and AIRTO’s Chair, Dr Paul Howarth FREng, called on the government to go a step further:

“We should like to see the government leverage the Innovation, Research and Technology sector even further to boost our capacity to deliver R&D services for international industry, thereby stimulating private investment and creating jobs for UKplc.”

 About AIRTO

AIRTO is the representative body for the innovation sector in the UK. Its membership comprises sixty of the principle organisations operating in the UK’s Innovation, Research and Technology (IRT) Sector. The IRT sector has a combined turnover of £6.9 billion per annum, employing over 57,000 scientific and technical staff. The sector contributes £34 billion to UK GDP per annum. AIRTO’s Members interface with industry and academia, working for both private and public sector clients. Members include not-for-profit and private sector Research and Technology Organisations (including Catapult Centres), government laboratories and some university enterprise offices. Members are an essential part of the UK’s infrastructure for innovation, accelerating research outcomes and the exploitation of new products and services, and training significant numbers of staff at a wide range of educational levels.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Jane Gate, Executive Director: