Small firms are to be the main beneficiaries of a host of measures to boost the competitiveness of British industry.
They will get the lion's share of Pounds 200 million, of which Pounds 125 million is additional expenditure. The initiative was announced this week in the Competitiveness White Paper .
In addition science minister David Hunt announced that Pounds 40 million will be made available over three years to support the implementation of the Technology Foresight initiative. It is intended that the private sector matches this sum, making Pounds 80 million available for research and development initiatives involving collaboration between government, industry and academics.
Among the initiatives for industry and commerce announced by the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, are: * an extra Pounds 100 million for business links, the one-stop advice centres for small firms * an extra Pounds 70 million on innovation including more advice on innovation and technology, encouraging small firms to develop new products and helping them get financial backing for high technology projects * a new Pounds 9 million university-industry Link research programme aimed at helping manufacturers reduce waste.
Arthur Francis, professor of corporate strategy at the University of Glasgow, welcomed the White Paper.
But he said it was "wrong" of the Government to identify the long tail of poor performers in industry as being the big problem.