In his introduction, Jeremy Hunt said this Budget would be about ‘harnessing British ingenuity to make us a science and technology superpower’. Whilst I welcome measures such as the 12 new investment zones, the £20bn of support for the early development of carbon capture storage and enhanced tax credits for research and development companies, this does not go far enough.
We seem to have forgotten the size of the prize. The UK is well placed to take advantage of the green tech revolution. According to Chris Skidmore's Net Zero Review, McKinsey estimates a global market opportunity of £1 trillion for British businesses by 2030. The International Renewable Energy Agency forecasts that the green tech sector could employ 38 million people globally by the end of the decade.
This is a huge opportunity. We not only can do better – we absolutely must do better.
Becoming a science superpower is not just about academic research but about the industrialisation of that research on scale in the UK, as it is through the industrialisation that value is created for our society. This value – or economic payback – comes in long-term, well-paid jobs at manufacturing plants and in large industrial R&D centres. The additional corporation taxes and investments that also come with this industrialisation create further economic value in the country of investment and the UK needs to focus on how to deliver this industrialisation.
The UK needs jobs and investment to be delivered in the next 24 months, not the next 20 years. The World Economic Forum reports that Joe Biden’s $370bn in tax credits has delivered $90bn of investment and 100,000 clean energy jobs in the six months since the Act came into law.
If the UK is to truly unleash the British ingenuity Mr Hunt believes will guarantee science superpower status, we need to think bigger and be bolder.
Sharon Todd, CEO of SCI