By Claire West
More than £200m will be invested by the Government in a network of elite Technology and Innovation Centres to drive growth in the UK’s most high-tech industries.
The centres, which were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech to the CBI yesterday, will bridge the gap between universities and businesses, helping to commercialise the outputs of Britain’s world-class research base.
Business secretary Vince Cable said:
“We need to do more to ensure the UK benefits from its world-class research.
“These centres will help take ideas from the drawing board to the market place. They will play a key role in helping firms develop new products and processes so they can grow and prosper.
“Companies will be able to access technology and skills that would otherwise be out of reach.
“High-tech industries are the future of the British economy. Growing sectors that exploit these new and emerging technologies will help re-balance the economy and provide the highly skilled, well-paid jobs we need.
“Thanks to this major investment, British companies will be at the forefront of innovation.”
The centres, which will receive the money over the next four years, will be based on the model proposed by Hermann Hauser and James Dyson. The network will support businesses in developing and commercialising new technology.
They will allow businesses to access equipment and expertise that would otherwise be out of reach as well as conducting their own in-house R&D. They will also help businesses access new funding streams and point them towards the potential of emerging technologies.
Each centre will focus on a specific technology where there is a potentially large global market and a significant UK capability. Areas identified as possibilities by Hermann Hauser included plastic electronics, regenerative medicine and high value manufacturing.
The network will be established and overseen by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) but individual centres will have a high degree of autonomy so they can respond to business needs. The TSB will work with industry, universities and other interested parties to identify the areas the centres will support.
The TSB will determine which existing centres to invest in by April next year and will then consider requirements for new centres.