UK could be top high-tech exporter

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Last October, Conservative leader David Cameron asked vacuum-cleaner boss Sir James Dyson to produce a report setting out proposals to make Britain the leading high-tech exporter in Europe.

His report, which was published this week, contains proposals to help build this new economic model and create well-paid new jobs.

Dyson’s proposals include creating a greater esteem for science and engineering, including a major national prize scheme for engineering and commitments, as well as the development of ’grand projects’ such as high-speed rail and nuclear-power plants to demonstrate the government’s ambitions for the country.

Dyson also wants changes made at university level to encourage more young people to choose science and engineering degrees, including industry scholarships for engineers, where the costs of bursaries to students are shared between industry and government. He would also like to see universities given greater freedom to develop shorter courses where appropriate, or create more vocational degrees.

He also recommends that, to bring the best new ideas created in UK universities onto the market, there should be more focused funding for knowledge transfer in universities and new ways of promoting collaboration through public-private research institutes.

Dyson also wants to make changes to improve financing for high-tech start ups, by increasing the generosity of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) relief for angel investors that support high-tech companies and a government-guaranteed business-loan scheme to encourage more lending by banks to innovative businesses.

He also suggests refocusing R and D tax credits on high-tech companies, small businesses and new start ups, and delivering on ambitions to deliver 25 per cent of procurement and research contracts through small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Dyson argues that the proposals ’need to occur alongside the much-needed deficit reduction that the Conservatives have argued for’.