Chris McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the Materials Processing Institute and Policy Chair for Innovation and Enterprise at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), has welcomed the commitment by the Government to boost R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Budget statement, Theresa May has vowed to increase R&D spending by up to £80bn over the next 10 years, with an additional £2.3bn being spent in 2021/2022, which will take the figure to £12.5bn for that year.

Mr McDonald said: “We have to recognise where we are starting from as the UK has been somewhat behind the OECD average for quite some time. To get to 2.4% is a real ambition from the Government, which we welcome, but I’d certainly like to see more progress. Moving towards 3% in due course would be more in line with other advanced economies, as highlighted by the CBI on many occasions.

“SME connectivity and innovation diffusion is another key area which needs particular attention that will provide companies with the tools, research capabilities and access to finance needed to grow. SMEs are facing too many barriers, so I would like to see specific measures introduced to support these firms, as well as more collaboration and connectivity to make this a reality.

“This announcement is positive and an ambitious target to focus on.”