Brexit-proof the UK economy with more R&D, say employers

Britain must Brexit-proof its economy by ramping up spending on research and development or risk being left behind in the global race to deliver game-changing innovations in areas such as space tourism and robotics, the country’s leading business group has said.

The CBI lobby group will launch a campaign on Monday to urge the government to adopt an ambitious new target for R&D spending of 3% of GDP, compared with the current level of 1.7%.

Adopting a target for R&D spending would send an important signal to foreign investors and academics that the UK can remain a hub for innovation and scientific collaboration in a post-Brexit world, the CBI will say.

It will say that despite government plans for a new industrial strategy and more spending on innovation, the UK’s position as “world leaders in science and innovation” is at risk.

“Much of what we need to deliver a world-class innovation ecosystem is already in place. The UK has first-rate universities, cutting-edge businesses and attracts talent from across the globe.

“But our spending on R&D has stagnated at just 1.7% of GDP, with both public and private sectors under-investing,” the report says.

It speaks of a growing challenge from Asian economies and notably China, which increased its share of global R&D spending from 2.5% in 1996 to 19.6% in 2013. China also outranked the UK when measuring its R&D spending as a percentage of GDP, which stood at 2.0% in 2014.

The CBI has not set a date for its 3% target…

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