UK budget includes £500m investment in tech infrastructure

22 Nov 2017

British Chancellor Philip Hammond is keen to boost the UK tech sector.

Today (22 November), the chancellor of the Conservative government, Philip Hammond, delivered his speech for UK Budget 2017.

In his speech, he noted that the government is to invest more than £500m in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to 5G and fibre broadband, in an effort to kick-start a lacklustre economy.

He said of the UK: “We have some of the world’s best companies, and a commanding position in a raft of tech and digital industries that will form the backbone of the global economy of the future.”

UK budget to boost tech

He explained the Conservative government aims to embrace the future and harness the potential at present, transforming opportunities into “the high paid, high productivity jobs of tomorrow”.

Hammond stated his hopes for the growth of the tech industry in Britain, saying: “A new tech business is funded every hour and I want that to be every half hour. So today we invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to 5G and full-fibre broadband.”

The UK needs capable networks

Commenting on the investment in infrastructure, Fraser Bell, chief revenue officer of global network provider BSO, said: “Stalling Brexit talks mean it was more important than ever that this budget incentivised businesses to invest in new technologies in order to remain competitive in the global economy.

“Increased funds going towards the infrastructure layer which props up our digital economy is welcome news, as this is vital if UK businesses are to truly challenge other leading technology hubs.

“Thanks to fast-paced digital transformation, on-demand is the new normal. Network capability is now the differentiator for firms that thrive in the connected world and those that struggle to survive.

“Politicians should not forget that without solid network infrastructure underpinning our technology innovations, the ecosystem as we know it would collapse.”

Support for businesses

Hammond added that the government would be supplying increased support to help UK start-ups: “We support regulatory innovation with a new regulator’s pioneer fund, and a new geospatial data commission to develop a strategy for using the government’s location to support economic growth and to help our tech start-ups reach scale.”

These announcements were within a budget where Hammond described UK economic productivity levels as “stubbornly flat”, announcing the extension of the National Productivity Investment Fund for a further year, expanding it to more than £31bn.

Image of Chancellor Philip Hammond by Sovastock via Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects