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Rishi Sunak unveils almost £30bn foreign investment in UK tech and infrastructure

Written by Tue 28 Nov 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled a substantial £29.5 billion ($37.2 billion) investment in the UK tech, life sciences, renewables, housing, and infrastructure. This investment is set to create thousands of jobs across the country in these key areas.

Sunak said: “[The investment] will create thousands of new jobs and are a huge vote of confidence in the future of the UK economy. Global CEOs are right to back Britain – we are making this the best place in the world to invest and do business.”

This annoucement comes in the wake of a £20 billion business tax cut and the establishment of a new Investment Zone in the North-East.

“From giving businesses the biggest tax cut in recent history last week, to our culture of innovation and thriving universities producing some of the finest minds in the world, ours is truly a nation of opportunity,” added Sunak.

Over 12,000 jobs are expected to be created from some of the investments. This follows the Government’s new £4.5 billion Advanced Manufacturing Plan, as well as a £2 billion investment from Nissan which is expected to secure thousands of jobs in Sunderland, and a new Investment Zone in the North East which is set to create 4,000 jobs.

Business & Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “The numbers speak for themselves. We have the third highest levels of inward investment in the world at $2.13 trillion ($2.7 trillion), we are number one in Europe for new investment projects, and last year alone we created 107,000 jobs through inward investment.”

Nearly 9,000 jobs were also created last year in the North West and North East from inward investment projects, with over 7,000 in Yorkshire and The Humber and 11,000 in the Midlands.

Microsoft to Invest £2.5 Billion in AI Data Centres

Microsoft has pledged a £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) investment to build artificial intelligence (AI) data centres in the UK.

The US tech giant is expected to fund next-generation AI data centres and thousands of graphic processing units. More details are due to be revealed this week.

The Government said it is hopeful the announcement will improve the UK’s status as an AI Superpower, with AI-related businesses in the UK generating more than £10 billion ($12.6 billion) last year.

Technology and Innovation in the Spotlight

The UK’s tech sector is also set to receive significant boosts from the US-based Ellison Institute of Technology, which plans to invest £1 billion ($1.2 billion) in its Oxford Campus, fostering global innovation.

Oxford Quantum Circuits is raising £85 million ($106 million) for R&D in quantum computing, a field where the UK leads in Europe.

Ilana Wisby, CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits, said: “To solve the world’s most pressing challenges – from climate change to accelerated drug discovery – we need to put quantum computers in the hands of humanity and at the fingertips of our most brilliant minds.”

Quantum computing in the UK is a rapidly growing sector that has the most startups in Europe, and is destined for £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) of public and private investment under the Government’s National Quantum Strategy.

Germany’s BioNTech, the developer of the first mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, also intends to expand its R&D activities in the UK with a new laboratory in Cambridge and an AI centre in London.

This £1 billion ($1.2 billion) investment by BioNTech will be implemented across 10 years, creating an additional 400 highly skilled jobs. It follows a major agreement between the Government and BioNTech SE this summer to provide up to 10,000 patients with precision cancer immunotherapies by 2030.

Sean Marett, Chief Business Officer and Chief Commercial Officer at BioNTech SE, said: “BioNTech and the UK Government share a common goal – to improve the life of people by advancing healthcare.”

The Dutch company Yondr’s £1 billion ($1.2 billion) investment in a new 30MW data centre in Slough that will create 3,500 jobs further highlights the UK’s attractiveness for foreign investment in technology.

Renewables Receive Investments

Major investments in renewables include a £7 billion ($8.8 billion) commitment from Spain’s Iberdrola and a £500 million ($632 million) investment from Swiss-owned North Star in offshore wind infrastructure, which will secure 400 jobs.

Iberdrola’s investment will focus on electricity networks and projects like the Eastern Green Link 1 subsea transmission cable.

The renewable sector’s growth in the UK is evident from the rise in inward investment from £19 billion in 2021 to £55 billion in 2022, creating over 11,500 jobs last year.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “The UK is a world-leader in renewable energy and green industries. We have attracted £200 billion ($252.7 billion) in low carbon investment since 2010, with another £100 billion ($126.3 billion) expected by 2030, as we lead the second industrial revolution.”

Swedish clean energy-tech company, Aira, is also set to invest £300 million ($381 million) into new heat pump rollouts, jobs, and upskilling.

Martin Lewerth, Aira Group CEO, said: “The UK is a crucial market to decarbonise, being one of Europe’s most populated countries and with the lowest heat pump penetration rate of just 1%.”

Further bolstering the UK’s renewable energy sector, Swiss-owned Gren plans to invest up to £1 billion ($1.2 billion) in district heating and local energy systems, delivering green energy to over 200,000 homes and businesses across the UK, including sites in Wick, Sheffield and Nottingham.

This investment, building on Gren’s network of waste and biomass fuelled assets, aims to contribute to reducing waste and landfill volumes.

In a move to spur even more innovation and investment, the Government also announced the creation of three new regulatory sandboxes for hydrogen-powered aviation, autonomous marine vessels and drones, with Innovate UK launching a £110 million ($139 million) Investor Partnership for UK science and tech SMEs.

Housing Development and Social Impact

Germany’s PATRIZIA announced a £100 million ($126.4 million) investment for the development of sustainable affordable housing in England, beginning with a project in Milton Keynes.

Wolfgang Egger, Founder of PATRIZIA, said: “PATRIZIA is thrilled to announce plans to invest £100 million into the development of highly sustainable, affordable housing in England. The programme will help address the acute shortage of good quality, affordable, EPC A rated family housing for renters, and provide additional investment in social infrastructure.”

Australian Investment Flows Into the UK

IFM Investors from Australia intend to invest £10 billion ($12.6 billion) in the UK over the next four years, focusing on infrastructure and energy transition projects.

Potential projects include Nala Renewables, a UK-based portfolio company within IFM, which is actively seeking investment opportunities in the UK as it looks to achieve a renewable capacity target of 4GW by 2025.

An MoU will be signed between IFM and the Department for Business & Trade to identify commercially viable opportunities.

David Neal, CEO of IFM Investors, said: “Australia’s ‘super funds’ system can be a trusted long-term partner with the United Kingdom. We are proud to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with the UK Government, which is a signal of the confidence IFM and Australian super funds have in the UK as a place to invest.”

Aware Super, also from Australia, has committed over £5 billion ($6.3 billion) for projects in energy transition, affordable housing, life sciences, innovation, technology, and digital infrastructure. This comes alongside the opening of their new UK office.

Deanne Stewart, CEO of Aware Super, said: “We are thrilled to announce our commitment to the UK, one of the world’s most important and vibrant capital markets, with the opening of our first international office.”

Taiwanese Investment in UK Tech

Further enhancing the UK’s technology sector, MediaTek, a Taiwanese semiconductor company, has committed to a combined investment of £10 million ($12.6 million) over the next five years. This investment, shared between MediaTek Research and MediaTek Capital, will focus on innovative UK tech companies, strengthening the UK’s position as a leader in technology and innovation.

These developments aim reinforce the UK’s reputation as a global hub for business, innovation, and technology.

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Written by Tue 28 Nov 2023

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