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Tech Industry

UK budget pledges millions for 5G, fibre broadband, biotech

Chancellor Philip Hammond announces new tech-focused measures in the spring budget.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond with his Budget Box as he leaves 11 Downing Street in London.

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

The British government is earmarking funds for broadband, 5G and high-tech industries.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond pulled the tech-friendly measures from his red box at Wednesday's budget announcement. They include £200m to get more high-speed full-fibre broadband networks to homes and businesses, and £16m for 5G trials.

A new Industrial Challenge Strategy Fund pledges £270 million to "keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless cars". Other areas covered by the fund include AI, electric cars and pharmaceuticals.

The budget also offers more money for those in STEM subjects, including training for teenagers studying new "T-Level" qualifications in technical subjects, as well as maintenance loans for undergraduate and Ph.D. students. Among the money set aside for transport, £690m is earmarked for improving urban transport networks across the country.

Li-Ke Huang, a 5G ‎researcher at Cobham Wireless, welcomes the investment of taxpayers' money in tech. "5G can also help fix the various 'not spots' across the country, such as commuter rail lines and large parts of rural Britain", said Huang. "The proposed government investment will help position the UK as a leader in 5G research and development."