April 22, 2009 / 2:25 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-UK's Darling announces 750 mln pound high-tech fund

* Strategic fund gives 750 million stg boost

* Covers emerging technology such as digital and biotech

* Falls short of 1 bln pounds hoped for by biotech industry

(Adds details)

LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - The UK’s high-tech industrial sector will get an investment of 750 million pounds ($1.09 billion) through a fund focussing on advanced technology, the government said on Wednesday.

The Strategic Investment Fund — announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling in his annual Budget speech to parliament — will provide financial support, focusing on emerging technologies and regionally important sectors in, for example, advanced manufacturing, digital and biotechnology.

As part of the fund, 250 million pounds will be earmarked for low-carbon investments, a further 50 million pounds for the Technology Strategy Board and 10 million pounds for UK Trade and Investment.

The Technology Strategy Board cash will be used to increase its capacity to support innovation in areas that have high potential to drive future growth, such as low-carbon technologies, advanced manufacturing and the life sciences, the budget report said.

National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum welcomed the new fund, saying it would help to regenerate the UK economy.

“The fund will give a new vibrancy to the UK’s technology market and will bring about deep and lasting change to our economy,” he said.

However, it falls well short of the 1 billion pounds that was hoped for by the biotechnology industry. [ID:nLL125842]

In the budget report, Darling also said the government would be looking at whether to change the tax system to encourage global firms to locate their R&D activities in the UK.

Richard Barker, Director General of UK trade body Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “It could have significant impact on how companies make their investment decisions.” (Reporting by Ben Deighton; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Andrew Macdonald) ($1=.6863 Pound)

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