Chancellor Philip Hammond used his Budget to announce that he wanted to secure the UK’s position as a global leader in technological innovation.
This means the government will be investing more money into the development of 5G networks, as well as autonomous vehicles, which the chancellor hopes will be on British roads by 2021.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will receive £75 million in funding. The UK will have to focus on this area in order to catch up with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China, where the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development suggested 70 per cent of AI development occurs.
Mr Hammond also announced that his government promised to boost digital skills. This would be accomplished in part by tripling the number of trained computer science teachers, taking the number to 12,000. A retraining partnership with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is also planned to boost digital skills in the workforce.
Explaining that he wants the UK to become a hub for tech innovation, Mr Hammond said: “A new tech business is founded in Britain every hour, and I want that to be every half hour. So today we invest over £500 million in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to 5G and full-fibre broadband.”
The chancellor announced that the government would be putting £160 million into developing 5G networks. Some £10 million of this would go towards creating facilities to test the security of 5G. This will happen in partnership with the National Cyber Security Centre.
Cyber security will also receive its own investment fund, according to Mr Hammond, explaining that “a National Security Strategic Investment Fund to invest in advanced technologies to contribute to the national security mission” will be established.
He did not state how much would be invested in this fund, but it will involve partnering with businesses to encourage more investment.