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Digital Technology: Midlands

Treasury written question – answered on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal steps he is taking to grow the digital economy in the Midlands.

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Exchequer Secretary, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The government is committed to making the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business, and to ensuring the benefits of digital are felt across the country.

The Midlands is well-placed to make the most of the digital revolution, with its leading universities and strengths in advanced manufacturing and engineering. It is already home to more than 20,000 digital technology businesses.

We are driving further growth in the region’s digital economy through:

  • The £250m Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), which enables effective collaboration between lenders, local bodies and the British Business Bank to help local firms access the investment they need to thrive. The MEIF complements other British Business Bank programmes to give small and medium-sized businesses increased flexibility in the types of funding available to them.
  • A Skills deal with West Midlands Combined Authority, which will unlock up to £69m to boost digital and technical skills, job opportunities and productivity across the region.
  • Committing over £20m for large-scale testing of new 5G applications in urban areas across the West Midlands, helping local people and businesses to benefit from new digital technologies. This builds on the £4.8m invested in the 5G testbed in Worcestershire, putting the Midlands at the forefront of 5G developments.

The region is also benefitting from:

  • Our investment of £21m in Tech Nation’s regional network, which is helping tech entrepreneurs across the UK to scale their businesses.
  • The government’s commitment since 2016 to invest an additional £7bn by 2022 in R&D – the largest increase on record and demonstrable progress towards our goal of increasing economy-wide R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
  • Support for businesses through R&D tax reliefs, which has more than tripled overall since 2010 and totalled £4.4bn in 2016-17.

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