21 March 2013
Increased Government funding towards the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) must be supported by a consistent approach and further assistance, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
While today’s Budget announcement that investment into SBRI will increase from £40 million to over £100 million is welcomed, the IET is concerned that the scheme will not be effective unless it is widely promoted and used by government departments. The involvement of these departments is vital to increase economic growth through increased SME procurement expenditure.
SBRI is an important tool to help the UK economy rebalance towards manufacturing but without consistent and substantial funding, it will not achieve its full potential.
David Evans, Chair of the Innovation and Emerging Technologies Policy Panel, said: “Not only must the Government ensure greater use of the SBRI through financial incentives for public bodies, but it is important that successful projects should be supported by follow-on procurement contracts. This will increase the number of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) awarded government contracts and will help to rebalance the economy.”
“The SBRI will enable the UK to become a high technology exporter and help to develop the larger companies of tomorrow.”
The Coalition Agreement included a number of pledges surrounding small business procurement. These included an aspiration that 25% of all government contracts should be awarded to SMEs, refocusing the Research and Development tax credit on high tech companies, small firms and start-ups, and a pledge to take steps to open up government procurement and reduce costs.
More information is available in the IET Position Statement: ‘Fostering UK High Tech growth through public procurement’
The IET is Europe’s largest professional society for engineers and technicians with 150,000 members in 127 countries.
Interviews with IET spokespeople are available on request to the IET Press Office.