Theresa May vows to increase R&D spending by up to £80bn over next decade

Posted On: 
20th November 2017

Theresa May has said the Government will spend up to £80bn on research and development over the next decade.

Greg Clark, Theresa May and Philip Hammond The announcement comes ahead of next week's Industrial Strategy white paper
PA Images

The Prime Minister pledged 2.4% of GDP per year on areas such as artificial intelligence and self-driving cars by 2027, with private money also forming part of the total spend.

The programme will see an additional £2.3bn of taxpayers’ money being spent in 2021/22 - bringing it to £12.5bn in that year.

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She said the increase in public spending over the next five years will bring R&D investment to "levels last seen in the 1980s".

The announcement comes ahead of next week’s launch of the Industrial Strategy White Paper, which Downing Street say will reveal “four Grand Challenges” to be addressed.

The Government say they will work with business, academia and civil society to "build on UK strengths in areas including artificial intelligence and the data economy; clean growth; healthy ageing; and the future of mobility".

Writing in The Times today, Mrs May said: “One of my first actions as Prime Minister was to begin the development of a modern industrial strategy that will help businesses to create high-quality, well paid jobs right across the country.

“This is a new long-term approach to shaping a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come.

“It helps young people to develop the skills they need to take up the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future.

“Our Industrial Strategy will propel Britain to global leadership of the industries of the future, seizing the big opportunities of our time – from Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to clean energy and self-driving vehicles.”

Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said the pledge on R&D spending was a "landmark moment".

"The UK is a world leader in science and innovation. By delivering this significant increase as part of our Industrial Strategy, we are building on our strengths and working with business to ensure that UK scientists and researchers continue to push the boundaries of innovation," he said.

“We want the UK to attract, and create, the best and brightest talents, from Nobel Prize winners to ambitious graduate students, and this game-changing investment will ensure we are the home of the industries of the future and high-quality, good jobs.”


Ministers have also announced plans to spend £1.7bn on improving UK transport links through a “Transforming Cities Fund" - with £250m already earmarked for the West Midlands.

Mr Clark said the move would "address weaknesses" in Britain's transport links "in order to raise productivity and spread prosperity." 

"It will fund new local transport links, making it easier to travel between often more prosperous city centres and frequently struggling suburbs," he said.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "The Transforming Cities Fund will drive productivity and growth in cities where this is most needed, connecting communities and making it quicker and easier for people to get around."

But Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: "This is too little, too late from the Conservatives, whose record has been high on rhetoric but low on reality.

“After years of languishing below it, Britain should be aiming to be above the OECD average on R&D spending. And to radically transform the transport infrastructure of the UK, we need more than the Conservatives are offering.

“The next Labour government will provide the urgent investment our country needs by spending 3 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2030, and will harness the £250 billion National Transformation Fund to update our infrastructure and capital equipment, including transport."