CAMBRIDGE--Massive new tax breaks for U.K. industrial research and several goodies for academic researchers are part of a new budget announced yesterday by the Blair government. "Scientific innovation is a prime catalyst of growth," said Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, as he unveiled the package, adding that "the seedbed is basic science."
Some of the new money seeks to top up initiatives launched last summer by the Labour government (ScienceNOW, 13 July 1998 ). Some $161 million will be added to the $960 million infrastructure fund for university laboratories and equipment created in partnership with Britain's giant biomedical foundation, The Wellcome Trust. There is also an extra $24 million for the $80 million University Challenge Fund, which provides academic researchers with seed money to launch start-up companies.
Industrial research is also a major beneficiary. Brown announced an R&D tax credit for small companies with a total value of $240 billion. "This targeted tax cut will underwrite almost one-third of research and development costs for small business," Brown said. The new budget, which goes into effect in April, also lowers the corporation tax rate for start-ups to 10% compared to the normal rate of 30%.