There was a retained focus on science and technology following similar announcements by predecessor George Osborne to fund research and university jobs.
Among the measures announced were:
- £300m to fund 1,000 PHDs in STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- £270m to “keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless vehicles”
A Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund will be launched in spring 2017. Government investment of £400m will be “at least matched” by private sector investors, and will accelerate the deployment of full-fibre networks by providing developers with greater access to commercial finance.
There was £16m for a 5G mobile tech hub to trial and demonstrate 5G applications. 5G is set to become the fastest mobile network by far, when it arrives.
Starting this year, the government “will invest £200m to fund a programme of local projects to test ways to accelerate market delivery of new full-fibre broadband networks. These will combine the following approaches bringing together local public sector customers, to create enough broadband demand to reduce the financial risk of building new full-fibre networks offering full-fibre broadband connection vouchers for businesses, to increase take-up of services where new networks are built through the programme, directly connecting public sector buildings, such as schools and hospitals. This will bring fibre closer to more homes and businesses, allowing them to be connected opening up public sector assets, such as existing ducts, to allow fibre to be laid more cheaply.”
The government will also invest £100m over the next four years “to attract the brightest minds to the UK”. This will be split equally, with £50m ring-fenced for fellowship programmes to attract global talent and £50m from existing international funds will support fellowships that attract researchers to the UK from emerging research centres such as India, China, Brazil and Mexico.