Reaction round-up - industry welcomes Budget tech investments but insists more can be done
An of commentators from tech businesses and industry bodies offer their thoughts on Philip Hammond's Budget
Today’s Budget included a wealth of technology and data initiatives, including changes to legislation, multibillion-pound investments, and a number of new bodies and programmes designed to lead the UK into a digital future.
You can read a comprehensive breakdown of all the technology- and data-related initiatives in this article. Here is what a range of technology commentators and industry representatives made of chancellor Philip Hammond’s plans.
“Open data is food for innovation and steps to further the Government’s Open Data agenda will benefit industry and citizens alike. As data becomes openly available it is important that we also protect its quality and integrity. We therefore support a new Geospatial Data Commission, with funding of £80 million, to look at these issues in the round. The chancellor is right that in a global economy, getting the tax system right will require a global approach. techUK continues to support the government’s work for an international agreement on these issues and believes that the OECD is the best forum for addressing this issue.”
Antony Walker, deputy CEO, techUk
It's a major boost for existing brands – big and small – to transform and deal with the digital future
“It’s encouraging to see the chancellor recognising the need for extra investment in the tech sector, particularly the support for skills and STEM subjects like maths and computer science. The next generation faces myriad new challenges like cybercrime, fake news and online fraud and it’s vital we give them the necessary support in schools to protect themselves. However, much more needs to be done to address Britain’s digital divide. Too many people are missing out on access to jobs and online education due to limited broadband access and poor connectivity. We need a more comprehensive plan to create a truly inclusive digital society. This means bringing together industry, government and communities to share training and expertise, enabling everyone to prosper in the increasingly competitive digital economy.”
Rachel Neaman, CEO, Corsham Institute
Money is not the key issue... we need to create the regulatory environment where innovation can thrive
“Hammond said that a new high-tech business is founded in the UK every hour, and that he wants it to be every half hour. We agree, and the £500m investment for tech initiatives including artificial intelligence and 5G is a step towards it. Crucially though, it’s also a major boost for existing brands – big and small – to transform and deal with the digital future.”
Peter Veash, CEO at The BIO Agency,
“It’s refreshing to see government investment into connectivity, but 5G will take several years to become mainstream. While it may one day meet expectations, we need a solution now. Our big cities urgently need networks that can support the world class infrastructure that the government wants to build, so instead of holding our breath for 5G we should invest into Wi-Fi technology for a simple, cost-effective solution.”
Nick Watson, EMEA vice president, Ruckus
“The money to be invested in both AI and electric and self-driving cars is a welcome signal from the government that we are committed to making the UK a high-tech nation. The money, however, is not the key issue – there is plenty of funding in the private sector, and we can never hope to match the funding provided in, for example, the US. Instead, the government needs to commit to create the regulatory environment where innovation and tech spend can thrive.”
Johan Hogsander, managing director at Transform
Much more needs to be done to address Britain’s digital divide. Too many people are missing out on access to jobs and online education
“It’s positive to see the chancellor’s ambition at encouraging a new tech business to be founded in the UK every half-hour. However, the ambition to harness innovation should be matched by large-scale, demand-side, outcome-orientated action in the shorter term. While the UK is a successful incubator for start-up tech businesses, companies of all types and sizes should be investing in digital services to drive productivity and competitiveness. Addressing this need for ‘demand side’ support is something that needs a clear commitment and timescales, to ensure the budget announcements are effective at impacting productivity.”
Chris Francis, director, government relations, SAP
“It is most welcome that the government is investing in the next generation of tech talent, pledging £600 to our schools for every new student who takes up A-level maths, and particularly in tripling the number of computer science teachers to 12,000. It’s not enough to have a computing curriculum, it needs to have talented experts who can teach it in an engaging and useful way that reflects the needs of industry. I will be interested to see how the £21 million in Tech City UK – now Tech Nation – is apportioned and spent, if it is about connecting clusters then they need to do a much better job of engaging with existing clusters and organisations and the regions must hold Tech City UK to account and ensure that London does not dominate its budget."
Katie Gallagher, managing director, Manchester Digital
The chancellor is right that in a global economy, getting the tax system right will require a global approach
“It is a positive step forward to see the government pledge to triple the number of qualified computer science teachers to 12,000, which will help to reinforce the importance of plugging the skills gap in the STEM industries. This will help to protect the UK’s future interests in this advancing technological age. From my own experience, encouraging STEM leadership has been essential to industry developments.”
Susan Bowen, EMEA general manager, Cogeco Peer 1
“The UK is already a leader in the transformational technologies that the budget addresses, namely Artificial Intelligence and driverless cars. We’re a technology company that has its roots in Cambridge University and has been working in AI for almost two decades, so we tick the box as an example of one of the UK’s technology innovators. We like that the budget is channelling funds at improving the UK workforce’s digital skills in AI as that will help foster innovation and improve the UK’s standing as a leader in this field.”
Heather Richards, CEO, Transversal
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