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Britain will fund research into robotics, 5G (5th generation mobile networks) and driverless cars. This was included in the latest budget announced by Philip Hammond, the British Chancellor in parliament.
According to The Inquirer’s report, the funding derives from the previously announced National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF). The budget announced by his predecessor George Osborne in March 2016 looking very similar, also pledging funding for 5G and driverless cars.
The 5G investment, specifically, may prove controversial, given widespread cynicism around what the technology is and the security concerns that surround it.
Raj Samani, CTO at Intel Security: “The government’s plan for the budget aims to put the UK firmly on the 5G map, claiming the super-fast mobile network will go as far as to revolutionise the healthcare industry. Exciting as this may be, I’m also extremely concerned. Yes, 5G means we’ll see faster and greater levels of data transferred across networks, but with this comes a great security risk – one that could be detrimental to the healthcare industry. If security is not addressed by the time 5G becomes a reality, we will become even more vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong, the progression to 5G offers a lot of benefits to people of the UK, as the Chancellor explained. Equally, security cannot be an afterthought, especially when it comes to something as vital as our healthcare. Security must be built in from the start”.
Other investments have been more positively received, with Justin Arnesen, director at consulting group Ayming pleased to see administration costs for research reduced: “It’s great to see policies that will reduce the administration overheads associated with R&D, but until we know what this means in practice, it’s hard to gauge the real impact”.
Arnesen said that he would like to see the government provide even better support to UK innovation: ”Hammond’s claim that the UK is globally competitive from an R&D perspective does have some merit, but the Government could definitely be doing more to support this area, and other countries are certainly more advanced.”