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£1bn in Funding to Go to Tech Hubs near England Universities

clock iconCreated At:16 March, 2023
write iconCreated By:Reem Mohamed

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On Wednesday, measures in the budget set out to boost business investment in the regions. This resulted in a number of tech hubs around England universities being expected to benefit from almost £1bn in extra funding.

Backed with £80m of government funding each, the chancellor is set to make the pledge to create 12 investment zones in eight different areas, the main aim of which is to drive business investment and level up the country’.

These investment zones will form the cornerstone of Jeremy Hunt’s efforts to “supercharge growth” and accelerate research and development in the “most budding industries”.

On the shortlist to host the investment zones are eight pre-existing zones and proposed combined authority areas across England. This comes with the intention to agree on plans with the combined authority mayors as well as individual local authorities and business groups by the end of the current year.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the former chancellor, stated last September that he wanted the springboard for business investment in the regions to be a national network of investment zones.

After taking over the position last October, Jeremy Hunt intended to implement this policy “in a way that learns the lessons of when similar models have been tried in the past and we will make sure they are successful”.

Though the exact rules regarding the investment zones have not yet been confirmed, Hunt has already set aside enough funds to cover five years instead of the ten years that most developers had hoped for. 

According to the Institute for Government, the package of incentives is said to likely include a reduction in national insurance contributions for employers, a cut in business rates, and more generous capital allowances on the purchase of new machinery and equipment.

Building commercial buildings and houses on the land is said to be easier as looser planning rules inside the zones are expected to be put forward. This will in turn put the government on a collision course with environmental charities that are trying to protect the natural biodiversity and who have argued that the zones will damage said diversity in the affected areas.

The Woodland Trust among other Wildlife charities has said that the loosening of these rules and regulations could very likely put nature in grave danger as many of the zones could end up being in the green elt land on the edge of cities that are currently there to protect the fragile natural ecosystems from urban development.

In his initiatives, Hunt stated how he wanted to direct his support towards research institutions that are in close proximity to universities covering the life sciences, advanced manufacturing, creative industries, the tech sector, and the development of green jobs.

“True levelling up must be about local wealth creation and local decision-making to unblock obstacles to regeneration,” Hunt said.

He continued, “From unleashing opportunity through new investment zones to a new approach to accelerating R&D in city regions, we are delivering on our key priority to supercharge growth across the country.”

The location of the investment zones will be in those proposed areas: East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority, Greater Manchester Mayoral Combined Authority, Liverpool City Region Mayoral Combined Authority, the proposed North East Mayoral Combined Authority, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Tees Valley Mayoral Combined Authority, West Midlands Mayoral Combined Authority, and the West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.


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