The private sector should play a bigger role in funding UK technology and innovation centres, according to the business lobby group the CBI.
Responding to the government's plans to open up to eight centres of excellence, the CBI said it supported the proposals for long-term funding and for multi-stream funding, but it described as "too rigid" the proposal that private-sector funding be capped at one-third.
"Opening up the possibility of more funding from the private sector, to constitute 25-55 per cent of the total, will drive greater innovation and growth," said Tim Bradshaw, CBI head of enterprise and innovation.
The government's Technology Strategy Board has suggested one-third of funding should come from government, one-third from competitive grants and the remaining third from business contracts.
The CBI also urged the board to limit to six the number of centres opened.
"It's important to concentrate resources and funding on a limited number of technology and innovation centres, so as not to overstretch the £200m budget," said Bradshaw.
Government must listen to individual sectors before planning each centre, and not impose a one-size-fits-all solution, he added.
The technology centre plans form part of the coalition government's wider strategy to kick-start the economy. The first three or four centres, developed from existing sites, should be open by 2012.
Priority sectors are high-value manufacturing; energy and resource efficiency; transport systems; healthcare; ICT; electronics, photonics and electrical systems.
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