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The first steps to a modern, ambitious industrial strategy

21 November 2016

Today, Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined the first steps in a modern, ambitious Industrial Strategy which will build on the country’s strengths.

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The government announced plans to invest £2bn into technology and science. Specifically, a new scheme will be launched to "best support emerging fields such as robotics and artificial intelligence, industrial biotechnology and medical technology, satellites and advanced materials manufacturing.”

Martin Walder, vice president of Industry at Schneider Electric, comments:

“Smart manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is well on the road to a game-changing evolution, and has its origins in technologies developed by visionary automation suppliers more than 15 years ago – it’s not some hyped up notion years away from reality. While it’s encouraging to see steps being taken to ensure that British businesses are given every opportunity to be at the forefront of change, it is crucial that fresh investment and R&D is put to use in the right way.

“In order to combat the stagnating UK manufacturing sector and ensure that the UK is empowered to produce the best products in the most cost effective way, Government investment needs to focus on the likes of automation and connected enterprises. An Internet of Things-enabled industrial environment is vital for pushing the boundaries of technological innovation – from the application of augmented reality for plant maintenance, and the rollout of smart sensing technology, to predictive maintenance, Virtual Reality tools and processes, and the integration of robotics on the factory floor.

“If this investment is channeled in the right way we can expect to see greater improvements in efficiency and profitability, increased cybersecurity and innovation, and the better management of safety, performance and environmental impact.”

Also commenting on the speech by the Prime Minister, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:

“This is a welcome announcement which outlines the beginnings of what a post-Brexit modern industrial strategy should look like. This includes a significant focus on high-value science, research and development, more intelligent use of government procurement and greater commitment to commercialise our successes.

“Manufacturers are willing to pick up the gauntlet which the Prime Minister has thrown down and contribute to driving up the UK’s productivity performance over the long-term. In response, we now need to see all government departments playing their part by getting behind such a strategy in a joined-up manner, beginning with the Autumn Statement later this week.

“The vast majority of businesses also accept their social responsibility to behave in an ethical and responsible manner. This ranges from the significant sums they invest in the training of their workforce, the provision of meaningful occupational pensions and provision of a safe and secure working environment. Whilst there will always be some who flout their responsibility, we must ensure that any legislation introduced balances the needs of business to operate in a competitive and flexible manner with a requirement for the highest standards of behaviour.”

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