Responding to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech today (4 January) outlining his priorities for 2023, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “After a quiet couple of months from the Prime Minister since being installed at Downing Street, it was important to hear the first real elements of his vision for the country.
“Businesses will be heartened that innovation will be a central plank of his economic growth plan – particularly in the East Midlands, the birthplace of transformative innovations such as the world’s first factory, DNA fingerprinting and traffic lights.
“In the Chamber’s Business Manifesto for Growth, A Centre of Trading Excellence, we speak about how our region is at the heart of making things, moving them and innovating in how we do this.
“We have the expertise here but to develop the products and services of tomorrow, our businesses need more support from Government. This should begin with a new R&D tax credits system that broadens the definition of what qualifies as research and development, as well as enhancing innovation funding aimed at subsidising firms’ access to universities such as via knowledge transfer partnerships.
“Any new policies that aim to create zones for enhanced investment and growth in particular sectors should also have an explicit emphasis on innovation, which would also help to avoid the risk of displacing existing economic activity.
“More broadly, business investment intentions are declining and it’s crucial we see policies come forward that support firms to invest in not only plant and machinery, but their people – who will ultimately drive the productivity advancements that Mr Sunak rightly specifies as a national priority.
“Unlocking economic growth via innovation has been a challenge for successive governments but if Westminster is looking for a blueprint on how to achieve this, we believe all the raw ingredients exist in the East Midlands thanks to our industrial heritage, world-class universities, central location and the country’s largest pure freight airport that will be key to moving goods across the world.
“If the Prime Minister really wants to make the British economy ‘the most innovative in the world’, he should begin by looking at our region – and back the East Midlands to back the UK.”