Announcing the policies today, the party has framed them as part of a package of innovation measures “designed to help cutting edge UK businesses”.
It said its pledge on the ring-fence comes after past actions by Vince Cable, the business secretary, who “demanded that the £4.6 billion science research budget was ringfenced”. The continuation of the ring-fence was likely to have been up for discussion during negotiations ahead of the last budget.
Maintaining the science budget “respects the long-term nature of the projects funded and will help support Britain’s innovation research”, the Lib Dems said in the policy announcement.
The party also pledged “further support for the ‘Catapult’ programme, which bridges the gap between universities, research institutions and business through £100 million of funding over the next Parliament”.
The Technology Strategy Board has developed seven Catapults, which are loosely based on Germany’s Fraunhofer applied research institutes. A further two Catapults, in energy systems and precision medicine, are due to open next year.
Mr Cable said: “Supporting innovative businesses is crucial to building a stronger economy in Britain. There are hundreds of businesses and individuals across the country with a good idea, pioneering groundbreaking research or working tirelessly to bring their product to market.
“In government we have fought to protect funding for these innovations, and we will continue to do so in the next Parliament. We will not allow others scrap this vital funding because of a short-term outlook, rather than invest in the people who are building the businesses of tomorrow.”