Last week, Chancellor George Osborne made his final budget statement, before this year’s general election. What does the UK Budget and tech industry have to do with one another? More than you think, because during his speech, Osborne announced some major plans to foster growth and support for the UK technology and digital sectors. Some of the highlights from the Budget Book include:
Driverless car technology & smart city expansion
Driverless cars are already undergoing trials in several UK cities, but Osborne wants to expand even further with a £100 million investment for the research and development of self-driving technology and the systems needed to take driverless cars, safely to all UK roads.
An investment of £40 million will go to demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in healthcare, social care and smart cities. Additionally, the government will support a competition to fund a smart cities demonstrator as part of the internet of things programme.
Faster broadband for everyone
Slow speeds and lack of coverage in many rural areas in the UK remain a constant problem. Osborne said, the coalition is ‘looking’ at raising the UK’s legal service obligation from dial-up speeds to 5mbps, and subsidising ‘superfast-capable’ satellite services that could support those hard-to-reach areas.
In addition, the government has committed £7.4 million to introducing WiFi access in public libraries throughout England.
Tech start-ups get a boost
Innovative businesses across the North will see an £11 million government investment in tech incubators in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. These tech incubators will aim to create local communities that support start-ups by offering collaboration, mentoring, education and business services.
The Budget Book also mentioned an initiative to engage with businesses to determine where regulations inhibit innovation, including disruptive technologies, and develop a program for addressing that in the next Parliament.
So what does this mean for the UK tech industry?
It’s no surprise that a bulk of the funding went to IoT programmes and supporting start-ups outside of London. The goal to develop the UK into an innovative tech leader, surpassing Silicon Valley, could mean further influxes of cash and programme support from the UK government. All in all, the Budget showed some extremely positive moves for the tech industry and for companies looking to elevate their tech footprint in the UK.