Brussels, 11 Apr 2003
The European Commission has welcomed new measures announced by the UK government designed to boost private investment in research and development.
Presenting his 2003 budget on 9 April, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequor, Gordon Brown, outlined initiatives aimed at promoting innovation through support for businesses investing in research and development (R&D).
In his budget address, Mr Brown said that it was a priority of the UK government to raise R&D spending from its current level of 1.9 per cent of GDP towards the US level of 2.8 per cent.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said: 'We welcome this announcement as a step in the right direction towards achieving the three per cent R&D spending target agreed in Barcelona. We hope that such measures will be taken up across Europe as an example of best practice.'
Specifically, the UK government outlined its intention to increase the scope of its R&D tax credit system, which encourages research investment by providing companies with tax relief. In the future, the level of annual investment required to qualify for the credit will be reduced from around 35,000 euro to around 15,000.
Mr Brown said that the move would particularly benefit small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and announced that the government would consider extending the definition of what constitutes research to further benefit smaller businesses.
Peter Cotgreave, Director of the Save British Science Society, said: 'It was heartening to hear the Chancellor say that he is looking at clearing up the definition of R&D, so that more companies will be sure to get the benefit of this credit, and will be supported in carrying out more research.'
In a further move designed to boost innovation, Mr Brown said that the UK government would reduce the burden of red tape on companies through the reform or abolishment of some 40 business regulations.
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