UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to use the Autumn Statement as a springboard to announce plans for a new investment scheme which aims to drive growth in the country’s tech sector.
The initiative will take the form of a £3 million fellowship programme to train the next generation of technology investors to support budding high-growth firms across the UK.
The long term aim here is to train the personnel required to facilitate further innovations and breakthroughs in high-growth areas such as artificial intelligence (AI).
The scheme will contribute to the Chancellor’s previously announced goal of making the UK a science and technology ‘superpower’ and, per a recommendation from the prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology, will be led by the Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT).
The innovation scheme will look to replicate the success of the Kauffman Foundation’s Fellows Program in the US.
The Kauffman Foundation, founded in 1966 by philanthropist and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Ewing Kaufmann, offers leadership and development training as well as networking guidance for venture capitalists as part of a two-year educational program.
Now based in Palo Alto, and managed by the Center for Venture Education, the scheme has trained over 800 investors now working at funds managing more than $1 trillion.
Wayne Johnson, CEO and cofounder at Encompass Corporation, welcomed this as a signal of the Government’s appetite to support its cutting-edge industries.
“Focus on supporting the UK’s innovation landscape would be a welcome inclusion in the Autumn Statement. It is important to see commitment to delivering on ambitious science and technology superpower aims that can support research and development, create jobs and cement the UK as a global technology leader.”
UK tech sector support
This is the latest scheme from the chancellor aimed at fostering innovation in the UK. Earlier in 2023, Hunt announced plans to invest £100 million ($125 million) in R&D projects across the country as part of the Innovation Accelerators program.
Framed as the government’s effort to support individual city regions to improve global competitiveness ,the investment scheme aims to create a more equitable business environment for regions across the country.
In a similar vein, the government also announced its Digital Growth Plan which provided Barclays Eagle Labs with £12 million in funding to support startups to go on to scale.
Part of the appeal of Eagle Labs’ project was its aim to democratize startup support in the UK and benefit the regional ecosystems that have traditionally lacked funding, with 80% of the supported startups slated to be from outside London.
The US announced a similar project in May 2023, with a $500 investment in regional ‘tech hubs’ across the country. The new hubs are hoped to bring ‘ecosystems of innovation’ to regions that have been ‘historically overlooked’ in terms of technology investment.
Johnson emphasized the importance of continued support for innovation in his comments on the chancellor’s new scheme.
“Attracting sustained investment from government, venture capitalists, and tech incubators, remains key to the growth of the technology industry and helping to foster new innovative solutions, such as Generative AI, and maximize the potential of others,” he said.
“It is vital that the UK shows continued commitment to the development and progress of innovation.”