Budget 2017: Robots, Cars, 5G, Digital Skills

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On Wednesday, Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the government’s latest Budget. From robot research and driverless cars to 5G and investment digital skills, there were plenty of announcements for the UK’s tech industry.

Here we round-up all you need to know.


Mr Hammond announced a £16 million investment to trial 5G technology in the UK. While still in its infancy, the technology is expected to deliver much faster internet speeds when fully deployed.


£200 million will go to local projects to help build “fast and reliable” full-fibre broadband networks, leveraging private sector investment. This will no doubt be good news for businesses suffering from poor-quality connections.

‘Disruptive’ technologies

An investment of £270 million to “to keep the UK at the forefront” of so-called disruptive technologies like driverless cars, AI, robotic systems and biotech.

Technical skills

The government will invest more than £500 million in technical education for 16 to 19-year-olds. New ‘T-levels’ for students will be introduced at the end of 2019, offering students a choice of 15 different routes including construction, digital or agriculture.

PhDs and fellowships

£300 million to support the “brightest and best” research talent, including support for 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships in areas like bioscience, biotechnology, quantum technologies and satellite and space technology.

Industry and expert reaction

“There were a number of welcome new funding announcements to ensure Britain is at the forefront of the global technology revolution. The £270 million commitment to developments in areas such as biotech, robotics and driverless cars is welcome.

“Similarly, the £16 million for a 5G hub and £200 million for local authorities to stimulate private investment in fibre networks for world class digital connectivity should be applauded.”

Charlotte Holloway, Policy Director at techUK

"Robotics and AI is set to be a driving force in increasing productivity, but also in solving societal and environmental challenges.

"It's opening new frontiers in off-shore and nuclear energy, space and deep mining. Investment from government will be key in helping the UK stay at the forefront of this field."

Dr Sabine Hauert from the University of Bristol, speaking to the BBC.

"The Budget discussed the government's plan 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.”

Raj Samani, Chief technology officer at Intel Security, speaking to Computing.co.uk.


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