More incentive needed on UK innovation sites

UK government plans to restrict the level of private investment in a network of technology innovation centers (TICs) risks stymieing innovation and growth, the CBI says.
Tim Bradshaw, head of the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) enterprise and innovation department, said the plans to restrict private funding to just 1/3 of total TIC costs is “too rigid,” and that financiers would be more interested in a stakes constituting “22-55%” of the figure.
The government this week published plans for funding the planned network of TICs, which it considers essential to driving the country’s future economy.
It plans adopting the same funding model used on an existing center in Germany, whereby 1/3 of the investment comes from central government, 1/3 from a public-private partnership, and the remainder from private investors.
While the government has set aside £200 million (€238 million) to cover its contribution, Bradshaw says that may not be enough to fund the network of eight centers proposed.
“It’s important to concentrate resources and funding on a limited number of technology and innovation centers, so as not to overstretch the £200m budget.
“The Technology Strategy Board should consider the lower number of six centers, ensuring each has the critical mass to be effective.”
MP Andrew Miller, chair of the Science and technology committee that drew up the proposals, says the funding model would help ensure the new TICS don’t monopolize “limited funds for innovation.”
He added that the model is designed to encourage even small businesses to get involved with the TICs, to strengthen the “financial base” of the centers.