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A modern Industrial Strategy

24 January 2017

The strategy green paper highlights a £4.7billion funding for R&D in areas such as smart energy, robotics, AI and 5G mobile networks.

Prime Minister Theresa May used her first regional Cabinet meeting to launch proposals for a modern Industrial Strategy to build on Britain’s strengths and tackle its underlying weaknesses to secure a future as a competitive, global nation.

The Industrial Strategy is a vital part of the Plan for Britain set out by the Prime Minister last week. It will drive growth right across the United Kingdom, using major new investments in infrastructure and research to drive prosperity – creating more high-skilled, high paid jobs and opportunities.

The modern industrial strategy green paper sets out a plan to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country. To achieve that goal, the green paper sets out 10 strategic pillars to underpin a new government approach:

1. Investing in science, research and innovation

2. Developing skills

3. Upgrading infrastructure 

4. Supporting businesses to start and grow

5. Improving procurement

6. Encouraging trade and inward investment policy

7. Delivering affordable energy and clean growth

8. Cultivating world-leading sectors

9. Driving growth across the whole country

10. Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

Theresa May said “the modern Industrial Strategy will back Britain for the long-term: creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and backing them to invest in the long-term future of our country.”

Industrial Strategy green paper

“It will be underpinned by a new approach to government, not just stepping back but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.”

The green paper also sets out technologies where Britain has strengths in research and development which could be supported through the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, including: smart energy technologies; robotics and artificial intelligence and 5G mobile network technology. This fund is part of £4.7 billion of additional R&D funding announced by the Prime Minister in November, a bigger increase than in any Parliament since 1979.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement, Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:  

“The announcement sends a strong signal that industry’s calls for a modern, comprehensive and robust industrial strategy have not fallen on deaf ears. The strategic pillars outlined touch upon some of the key weaknesses, areas of concern and opportunities for business which, if tackled, will provide a huge tonic to Britain’s future economic growth. Government and industry must now work together to meld these pillars into a strategic framework that will deliver measurable, demonstrable results.

“The right industrial strategy will provide the springboard for future British economic success. It must live up to the promise of driving different behaviours and outcomes for the British economy, which requires the whole of Government working together to support it with clear leadership from the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. The fact that the PM has unveiled these plans herself suggests that this message too has successfully landed.”

Martin Walder, vice president of industry at energy management specialist, Schneider Electric, comments:“Brexit is top of mind for many UK businesses as 2017 continues to unfold. With the Prime Minister revealing more and more of the Brexit roadmap, it’s reassuring to see that investment in UK industry is still high on the agenda. Taking advantage of smart manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will fuel the progress of UK industry and ensure that we can compete on a global platform.“It’s essential that British Industry is given every opportunity to be at the leading edge of global industrial innovation through fresh investment, in order to combat the risk of stagnation. An Internet of Things-enabled industrial environment will push the boundaries of technological innovation and empower manufacturers to energise their workspaces – from the use of augmented reality in 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. 

“It’s never been more important for the UK to deliver the best products at competitive prices. In order to do this, we need the Government to drive capital investment in new manufacturing plant technology and equipment, such as robotics, automation and artificial intelligence. Research and innovation in these areas will have a direct impact on how new technology is rolled out, bringing with it the potential for significant gains in profitability, and the better management of safety, performance and environmental impact.”

To read the Industrial Strategy green paper, click here.

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