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UK plans to spend £200m on innovation in spring budget

London

THE UK plans to invest £200 million (S$354 million) in supercomputers, lasers and genetic research to support science and technology as the country prepares to leave the European Union.

The move is part of the Spring Statement to be unveiled by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday, with a long-term plan for research and innovation infrastructure to be published in the autumn, according to a Treasury statement on Sunday.

The chancellor's statement will come during what could be a pivotal few days for Brexit. Mr Hammond could offer an extra £5 billion to end austerity if Parliament backs Prime Minister Theresa May's deal set for a vote on Tuesday, a move that would release cash held back in case of a no-deal.

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The government already pledged a further £20 billion for the National Health Service, while committing to protect defence and overseas aid from real-term cuts. Should Britain leave the bloc without a deal, further spending restraint may be necessary to balance the budget by 2020.

Under the science and tech investment plan, laser technology in Oxfordshire will benefit from the highest allocation with £81 million to further enhance a photonics industry. Edinburgh will receive a £79 million supercomputer to be used to run tests for the medical, climate and aerospace industries, while £45 million is targeting genetic research in Cambridge to increase its computing and storage capacity.

The research and technology industry is worth £36 billion to the economy, according to the Treasury. BLOOMBERG