Brussels, 01 Apr 2003
The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has indicated that the government will place more emphasis on the role of the regions in the country's research and innovation policies.
Addressing the annual British Chamber of Commerce conference, Mr Brown said that the UK government was moving away form a 'national one size fits all approach', towards a devolution of responsibility for research and skills training to the regions.
'Our regional and local approach means we are already moving from centrally administered R&D [research and development] policies to the encouragement of local technology transfer between universities and companies and the development of regional clusters of specialisms,' he said.
Such policies fit closely with the vision outlined by the Commission in its communication on the regional dimension of the European Research Area, which highlighted the need for all European regions to take the initiative in developing their research and innovation capacity in order to prepare for the emerging knowledge economy of the future.
The Chancellor warned that while some regions in the UK are comfortably meeting the Barcelona research spending target of three per cent of their GDP, some regions are only investing 0.5 per cent of their annual GDP in research.
Mr Brown called for more to be done to develop local science and industry partnerships, by promoting clusters of businesses, universities and other regional agencies. In order to support such moves, he highlighted the UK government's new R&D tax credits for business, the extra 1.8 billion euro investment for science, and the increase in investment for research in higher education to 725 million euro a year.
He warned that with globalisation opening up economies to strong competition from numerous continents, the UK's competitive advantage lay in maintaining a higher level of skills and promoting entrepreneurship.
'[C]reating that entrepreneurial culture which matters so much to the future of Britain cannot be achieved without success in the boardroom, but can only be achieved by starting in the classroom,' he concluded.