ICAEW study finds concerns over government’s industrial strategy

ENGINEERING and technology executives have voiced concerns over the government’s industrial strategy and the need to fill the R&D funding and long-term investment gap in a post-Brexit Britain.

Most worrying to business leaders in the engineering and technology sectors are a number of EU investment streams, which are now in doubt following the 23 June vote to leave the European Union, according to research by the ICAEW and the Institution of Engineering & Technology. The investment streams include seed funds and grants for smaller companies.

“There has never been a more important time to support the growth of UK engineering and technology to make us globally competitive. We want to see it at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy, with the right levels of investment and a particular focus on supporting the SMEs that are so important to our success as a global innovation centre,” Naomi Climer, IET President, said at a policy event on Tuesday hosted by the IET and the ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce major economic changes under the government’s new industrial strategy in the autumn statement.

Michael Izza, CEO of ICAEW, said the joint initiative – which included the publication of its research – aimed to encourage debate and discussion about how the UK could boost investment and advice for advanced engineering and innovative technology companies at a crucial time for the economy.

Steve Turley, Perpetuum CEO, said in the research: “Given the new situation on Britain, we now have to ask what money will be invested in technology based small companies. Are younger companies just going to be told to get on with it, and possibly fall over? Or is there going to be a new source of funds that’s essentially going to replace what the EU was doing? Our competitors in Europe will still be getting this funding. How’s the UK government going to fill that funding gap?”

Attendees at the event included Dr Ruth McKernan, Innovate UK CEO, Vernon Soare, ICAEW executive director, senior officials from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Department for International Trade, UK Export Finance and the Intellectual Property Office.

Some issues raised in the discussion paper question whether the government, business and trade bodies can do more to ensure a wide variety of funding; how the government can back start-ups through co-financing as well as whether start-ups can benefit from better investment and funding advice and information.

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