The Budget must support start-ups and R&D

James Dyson

Next week, the Chancellor wields his red box. I’m eager to find out what the 2011 Budget holds for British design and technology.

The Conservatives have reassured us that they are considering raising the tax credit for technologies developed in the UK. Research and development is risky, and it requires support. If the UK is to win when it comes to design, we need to encourage people – and companies – to make early investments.

The Treasury should prioritise funding for start-ups, particularly spin-outs from universities. Angel investors won’t take risks alone without incentives from central Government.

But private investment can still contribute. My foundation has recently supported the building of new business incubators at the Royal College of Art. Here, postgraduates with brilliant ideas will work with experts to bring their inventions to market.

Design is often seen as simply making something look good. Its role in hi-tech engineering, which can be exported to the world, is largely ignored. Tax credits have supported nearly £52bn of R&D activity since their introduction in 2000.

To be an export economy, Government needs to go further. It must raise the research and development tax credit for small technology companies to at least 200 per cent. We are still behind France, Japan, India, Korea and China. Singapore benefits from a generous 250 per cent credit.

The Budget will reveal all kinds of challenges – but I hope Government protects design and technology. If we don’t commit now, we risk being left behind the rest of the world.And the Chancellor’s balance sheet will be as red as his box.

James Dyson, Founder, Dyson, London SW3

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