On the day that Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to calm CBI fears over the prospects of a ‘hard Brexit’, the Confederation has issued new research that shows UK firms are planning to maintain investment in innovation.
Indeed, a CBI survey of over 800 businesses – supported by Deloitte and Hays – shows that 70% of respondents plan to increase or maintain their innovation spending following the vote to leave the EU. Only 7% plan to reduce their investment.
To put that in perspective, last year business invested almost £21bn on innovation
“The UK will need to work hard to become the front-runner in global innovation, creating a pioneering economic role for itself in the world that drives prosperity in every corner of the UK.
“Innovation is the nucleus of future economic and social development, so it’s encouraging that seven out of ten firms will keep up – or even raise – their spending on new technologies and work practices to grow their business.
‘Rolling up our sleeves’
“As we prepare to depart the EU, this shows that firms are rolling up their sleeves and looking to make the best of Brexit.
“Spending on innovation generates jobs and economic growth across the country, offering solutions to the challenges we face today and in the years ahead from improving healthcare and mobile technology to a new generation of autonomous vehicles.
“While the UK has many innovation strengths to build on, businesses are worried that the country is too much of a follower in the global economy, with the lack of access to technical skills a grave concern for ambitious firms.
The news comes on the day that Theresa May floated the idea of a ‘transitional’ Brexit to avoid a cliff edge scenario for business. Details are scarce, but May did tell the CBI conference, “Obviously as we look at the negotiation we want to get the arrangement that is going to work best for the UK and the arrangement that is going to work best for business in the UK.
“And I’m conscious that there will be issues that will need to be looked at. I understand the point that Paul [Drechsler, CBI president] has made, others have made this point, that people don’t want a cliff edge, they want to know with some certainty how things are going to go forward. That will be part of the work that we do in terms of the negotiation that we are undertaking with the European Union.”