Imperial College London

Comment: Green industries must benefit from new innovation boost

by

Professor Richard Templer

Professor Richard Templer, Innovation Director at the Grantham Institute

Grantham Institute Innovation Director welcomes government funds for modern, ambitious industrial strategy, and the promise for green technologies.

Ahead of the Treasury's Autumn Statement today, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a new substantial investment in research and development (R&D) worth two billion pounds per year by 2020.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) conference on Monday night, she set out plans for a 'modern, ambitious industrial strategy', which would make Britain the 'go-to place for innovators and investors'.

Professor Richard Templer is Director of Innovation at the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment, at Imperial College London, where he leads the Institute's work to support new 'cleantech' inventions that aim to solve everyday needs without a negative effect on the environment. He welcomed the news on Monday: "The announcement of an annual two billion pound increase in government support for R&D is very welcome."

The need for an industrial strategy that puts the UK at the forefront of delivering this new economic growth is self-evident, and there are great opportunities to be had for growth and employment.

– Richard Templer

All nations of the world are now engaged in moving to an economy that avoids producing any more greenhouse gases by the end of this century. Templer says: "The need for an industrial strategy that puts the UK at the forefront of delivering this new economic growth is self-evident, and there are great opportunities to be had for growth and employment."

"Time will tell if the government's new stimulus for R&D is linked to the national agenda on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, but I am heartened by the record of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), all of whom have pointed to the real challenges and opportunities raised by the changing climate."

Despite the UK's past history of great innovation successes, the country's investment in R&D will still be smaller than many advanced economies. Per person, the UK comes second to the United States in terms of its sales of green or clean goods and services (based on 2014 data). The new investment would raise funding from 1.67 per cent of the UK's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 1.8 per cent, "so it will be economically and politically important to target the support at the most promising sectors," says Templer.

He is optimistic about the prospect for the UK to accelerate growth in these areas: "Coupling a revival of our manufacturing sector and associated employment whilst growing our status as a low carbon technology exporter would be an optimal result in my opinion," he says.

Imperial College London has recently supported a new project that aims to build on London's predominance in innovation, and bringing the inventions of small businesses to market. Templer says: "The Centre for Cleantech Innovation at the Grantham Institute runs a programme to help start-ups create viable businesses on behalf of the Climate-KIC. So far it has graduated 30 new businesses that have attracted over 80 million US dollars of investment since 2012. In microcosm, this demonstrates the vigour of the new economy and the opportunities for growth that it brings. We have already been working with partners on how we can create a cleantech innovation cluster in London that can further accelerate this growth."

Reporter

Simon Levey

Simon Levey
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 5650
Email: s.levey@imperial.ac.uk

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