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Call to use existing infrastructure to push technology

Research

Engineers have said the government’s industrial strategy should promote the use of the UK’s existing infrastructure to test new technology.

A report by an alliance of engineering organisations called Engineering the Future, said a network of ”national innovation assets” could become hubs of testing and innovation, as well as specialist skill development. It cites an example of this already happening with the pods being used by Transport Systems in Milton Keynes and says similar schemes would help the spread of innovation outside the current clusters.

The report was led by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It asks the government to set a target of 3% of GDP for combined public and private investment in research and development and would like the public sector and industry to work out a plan to reach this goal. It adds that when the UK leaves the European Union, increased state aid, such as tax credits will be needed to sustain and drive innovation.

“Collaborative research and development between industry and academia delivers real benefits to the UK, driving growth and productivity improvements for firms and high-quality, use-inspired research outputs. We also know that access to talent also has a direct influence on businesses’ decisions about investment in R&D. Catalysing connections between businesses of all sizes, academics and investors is critical to improving the successful commercialisation of ideas,” said Royal Academy of Engineering president Dame Dowling.

“There is a compelling case for continued investment in our research base as a means of fuelling future prosperity, but we must also focus on supporting the innovation process if we are to reap the full benefit from the research.”

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