UK government today released a report applauding the country’s success in attracting foreign investment, but was unable to back up its claims that Britain was becoming a knowledge driven powerhouse.
An annual operations review for 1998/99 released by the Department of Trade and Industry entitled, 'Thinking Britain, Investing in the knowledge driven economy’, revealed that there have been 652 new investments during the year, creating 44,413 new jobs, in the year ended March 1999.
Total value of inward investment was £196.4 billion at the end of 1998 but the DTI was unable to specify how much of this sum went into the high tech sector.
Software was the top investment sector, with 49 projects and 4,300 jobs, followed by IT equipment and components, with 46 projects and 3,000 jobs, according to the DTI.
Telecoms came in at fourth place, with 28 projects and 2,500 jobs.
America was responsible for 44.4 per cent of all foreign investment, much of it in the IT, telecoms and software sectors, either through the establishment of UK offices or the acquisition of local players, the report claimed.
Major high tech investors included Toshiba, which established a $16 million laboratory at Bristol University to develop video mobile phones; Lucent Technologies, which opened a European headquarters for digital cellular telephony at Ascot; and Microsoft, which announced an $80 million research laboratory in Cambridge.
Speaking at the launch of the report, the secretary of state for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers, said the government had changed its strategy to focus on attracting more of these types of high value added projects.
“High technology led, knowledge driven businesses often have high potential for growth,” Byers said. “They train their workforces in modern skills and techniques, and make more of an impact on local suppliers and the British economy as a whole."
While job numbers were important, the government wanted to focus on increasing the number of higher paid positions with higher levels of transferable skills, he said.
Despite the claims of the report to show a high tech investment boom however, a spokeswoman for the DTI admitted it only had a breakdown of figures by country, rather than sector.
The report did state that software and computing services companies represented £30 billion in turnover within the UK economy, with one million people working in related employment.
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