By helping all places to access the benefits of technological progress and reach their full potential, we can drive growth at national level. Since autumn 2016, the Government have announced an additional £7 billion for science and innovation—an increase of about 20% to total Government R&D spending by 2021.
Does the Minister agree that digital technology enables further devolution away from London of high-tech industries? What are the Government doing to support that?
The Government are expanding Tech City’s reach across the UK, creating Tech Nation by investing £21 million over four years to help people grow digital businesses. That includes a large-scale CityVerve smart city demonstrator in Manchester, which demonstrates how the internet of things, technologies and services can improve local services in transport, energy, health and culture.
Newcastle has national centres of excellence in data, health and energy—key drivers of our future economy. On Saturday, I held a business summit with Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, at which start-ups identified attracting investment as a key barrier to their growth. What are the Government doing to attract investment to businesses in Newcastle? Does that include a regional business bank, as supported by Labour?
We certainly have a national bank to encourage investment in small businesses. We also have the £400 million digital infrastructure fund. As a Minister, I am doing all I can to ensure that we find the best conditions for investing in small and medium-sized enterprises across the country.