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UK Budget includes Strategic TBED Fund, Green Tech and Broadband Initiatives

May 06, 2009

To help the United Kingdom out of the recession, Alistair Darling, chancellor for the exchequer for the United Kingdom, outlined several significant TBED priorities in his budget address to the House of Commons last month.

Top among them is a £750 Million ($1 Billion USD) Strategic Investment Fund that "will provide financial support, focusing on emerging technologies and regionally important sectors in, for example, advanced manufacturing, digital and biotechnology," Darling said in his address.

This includes an additional £50 million for the Technology Strategy Board and £10 million for UK Trade and Investment. Fully one third of the new funds, £250 million, will be earmarked for low carbon investments.

The Technology Strategy Board manages a £1 billion portfolio of TBED programs, including university-business collaborative research grants, a series of knowledge transfer networks for technology transfer, and research centers.   The Board has not announced how the new funding will be distributed.

Also launched at the end of April is the new £100 million Small Business Research Initiative, a research development program modeled somewhat on the U.S. SBIR program and even sharing the letters in the acronym. Competitions opened for health care and defense technologies, with proposals requested to address 3 and 2 topics respectively. Up to 20 SBRI competitions are anticipated to run this year.

Chancellor Darling also announced £405m of new funding to encourage low carbon energy and advanced green manufacturing in Britain - "to drive the application of new technology and invest in small scale projects." The funds are part of what the chancellor called "the world's first ever carbon budget," which commits Britain to cut carbon emission by 34 percent by 2020. Overall, low carbon sectors are receiving £1.4 billion in new funds according Treasury press notes.  Some of the funds will be used for conservation and efficiency projects; while other funds will release up to £4 billion of European Investment Bank financing for UK renewable energy projects.

For broadband, the budget allocates £100 million for digital investment led by Yorkshire Forward that will roll-out next-generation broadband to South Yorkshire. Yorkshire Forward is a regional development agency charged with improving the economies of Yorkshire and Humber.

Also on the city-region level, the budget includes funding for two pilot city-region projects in Greater Manchester and Leeds. The pilot city-regions will benefit from the stronger integration of planning, housing, transport, regeneration, employment and skills programs, increasing their ability to drive sustainable growth and economic development.

More information on the 2009 UK budget is available at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/bud_bud09_index.htm. 

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