Newcastle Science City reaction to Budget 2012

Paul Walker, chairman at Newcastle Science City, said: “George Osborne’s promise to make the UK ‘Europe’s technology centre’ is an aspiration we firmly support but one that requires serious investment in science and technology. Universities and businesses must also be given as much freedom as possible to innovate. We look forward to hearing more from the Government on how this aspiration will be achieved.

“The news of an extension to R&D tax credits, following relaxation in the rules already planned for April 2012, has the potential to significantly benefit our high growth science and tech businesses and we keenly await announcement of the final rates following the Government’s pending consultation.

“The Chancellor’s announcement of a new £100million fund to support major new university research facilities appears to have potential to benefit universities, such as Newcastle, which focus on cutting edge commercially applicable research. While this initiative would be capital intensive – requiring significant private sector match funding – investment now could set up leading universities to have an even greater impact on economic development than they do today.

“It was excellent to hear Newcastle confirmed as one of ten super-connected cities to benefit from ultrafast broadband, following a bid led by Newcastle City Council. This announcement does throw up the issue of whether there will be a rollout of broadband to rural North East areas, especially in Northumberland and Durham, as connection is critical to the development of health, business and social initiatives in these counties.

“The Government’s ambition to more than double annual UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 is a target North East England will play an important role in achieving. The region already boasts a strong export led economy, particularly in the areas of engineering, manufacturing and life sciences, with a positive balance of payments (the only region outside London in this situation). Enterprise Europe Network North East, of which Newcastle Science City is a partner, will play a vital role in helping companies further increase these impressive rates.”

Newcastle Science City is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, securing £2.3million of ERDF investment. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.