British PM Theresa May to unveil industrial strategy to spur ‘ambitious’ ideas

The government will also launch a review of research and development tax incentives to ensure Britain's global competitiveness as a home for scientists, innovators and tech investors, she will say in her speech.

By: Reuters | London | Published:November 21, 2016 7:34 am
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives her speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 5, 2016. To match Insight BRITAIN-EU/MAY-SPEECH REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May gives her speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 5, 2016. To match Insight BRITAIN-EU/MAY-SPEECH REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Prime Minister Theresa May will unveil her new industrial strategy on Monday, pledging to spend billions of pounds on science, technology and research to spur a new “ambitious” way of doing business in Britain. May, who faces some of Britain’s toughest negotiations since World War Two to secure an advantageous divorce from the European Union, is keen to persuade business to back her push to create “the conditions where winners can emerge and grow”.

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Her speech to the CBI, a leading business organisation in Britain, is also aimed at easing concerns among company bosses that May wants to rein them in by calling for workers on boards and promising to tackle excessive executive pay. “Our modern Industrial Strategy will be ambitious for business and ambitious for Britain,” she will say, according to extracts of her speech provided by the prime minister’s office.

“It is not about propping up failing industries or picking winners, but creating the conditions where winners can emerge and grow. It is about backing those winners all the way, to encourage them to invest in the long-term future of Britain. And about delivering jobs and economic growth to every community and corner of the country.” May will say her government plans “substantial real terms increases in government investment worth 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) per year by 2020” in research and development, including a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to back priority technologies such as robotics and biotechnology.

The government will also launch a review of research and development tax incentives to ensure Britain’s global competitiveness as a home for scientists, innovators and tech investors, she will say. With analysts saying that Britain faces slower growth next year after voting to leave the EU at a referendum in June, May wants to kickstart an economy to help those who are “just managing” and who largely voted in favour of Brexit.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday his first budget plan would not include a big new spending push because of “eye-wateringly” high public debt levels, but would offer some help for the economy and struggling families. May, who was appointed prime minister after the Brexit vote, will urge companies to run with new technologies and get better at commercialisation to develop new ideas in Britain.

“Government will consult on how the fund can best support emerging fields such as robotics and artificial intelligence, industrial biotechnology and medical technology, satellites, advanced materials manufacturing and other areas where the UK has a proven scientific strength,” May’s office said.