British innovation needs better support and incentives to take on low-carbon technologies, says business group
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling on government to increase its commitment to helping businesses take the lead in low-carbon innovation with ten recommendations.
In a new report, Pulling ahead: innovating for low-carbon leadership, the business group put greater incentives and adoption of more efficient technology at the heart of its proposals to make sure the UK is well-placed to develop in new and existing industry sectors.
Key recommendations urged new policies to support cutting-edge industries that help cut carbon, changes to government procurement to foster take-up of low-carbon technology and accelerating national infrastructure projects in areas like energy generation.
“Britain has great expertise in low-carbon technology and research. This must be encouraged and supported by government, but we also need policies that help to implement advances in technology in practical and commercially-viable ways,” stated John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General.
The report also called on the government to maintain and improve the research and development (R&D) tax credit scheme to encourage low-carbon technologies investment. The credits allow relevant companies to deduct up to 175 percent of qualifying R&D expenditure, when calculating their profit for tax purposes.
“It is encouraging that the UK is already home to the R&D centres of many international companies.,” added Cridland. “What is more open to question is whether this can be sustained in the face of increased investment by our competitors, especially the US.
“We need to turn brainpower into business success to keep Britain at the cutting-edge of low-carbon technology and be rewarded for our expertise in this area. Today’s recommendations would help this happen.”
The 10 recommendations for government put forward in the report include the use of a transparent and robust assessment to establish technologies to add value to the UK economy, taking account of existing strengths.
And it urged the need to establish “firm actions, not words,” with the next level of policy detail to set the framework for the private sector in order to commercialise technologies and encourage investment of private capital, business incubators, public-private hybrid funds for early stage development and loan guarantees to aid final commercialisation.
To make it easier to get support for low-carbon initiatives, the report also pointed to a need for consolidation and streamlining of applications to public agencies and pressure for greater transparency in European Union research programmes.
And, to lead by example, it also said government procurement should help drive demand for low-carbon products and support large-scale technology demonstration with national infrastructure upgrade projects, like its Digital Britain strategy.
At the same time, the report also called on businesses to make carbon considerations a core part of the business, by measuring carbon use and including carbon costs in the bottom line, in preparation for looming looming carbon reporting requirements.