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A Britain fit for the future

29 November 2017

Hear from Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK and Mike Hughes, Zone President UK & Ireland at Schneider Electric on the ambitious Industrial Strategy and what it means for UK economy.

The white paper confirms government will be pressing ahead with a series of Sector Deals, with construction, life sciences, automotive and AI the first to benefit from these new strategic and long-term partnerships with government, backed by private sector co-investment. Work will continue with other sectors on transformative sector deals.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Our modern Industrial Strategy will shape a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come. It will help create the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and support these businesses in seizing the big opportunities of our time, such as artificial intelligence and big data, whilst also making sure our young people have the skills to take on the high-paid, high-skilled jobs this creates.”

“As we leave the European Union and forge a new path for ourselves, we need to focus on building a better future for our country and all the people who live in it. With the Budget last week, and our Industrial Strategy in the years ahead, we will build a Britain fit for the future.”

In the strategy, the government has identified 4 Grand Challenges; global trends that will shape our rapidly changing future and which the UK must embrace to ensure we harness all the opportunities they bring. The 4 are:

• artificial intelligence – we will put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution
• clean growth – we will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth
• ageing society – we will harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society
• future of mobility – we will become a world leader in the way people, goods and services move
Each Grand Challenge represents an open invitation to business, academia and civil society to work and engage with the government to innovate, develop new technologies and ensure the UK seizes these global opportunities.

The white paper follows extensive engagement by government with industry, academia and business bodies who submitted almost 2,000 responses to the green paper consultation earlier in 2017.

The strategy unveiled reflects this engagement, with a new and unique partnership between government, academia and industry, supported by policies that are committed to making the UK economy more productive and giving it a competitive edge in the future and abroad.

Five foundations

The white paper focuses on the 5 foundations of productivity – ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places – with a clear and complementary vision for each.
Each foundation is supported by a range of policies designed to provide businesses with certainty and reassurance that the UK will continue to have a competitive edge, including:

• raise total R&D investment to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2027
• increase the rate of R&D tax credit to 12 percent
• invest £725 million in new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes to capture the value of innovation


• establish a technical education system that rivals the best in the world to stand alongside our world-class higher education system
• invest an additional £406 million in maths, digital and technical education, helping to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills
• create a new National Retraining Scheme that supports people to re-skill, beginning with a £64 million investment for digital and construction training


• increase the National Productivity Investment Fund to £31 billion, supporting investments in transport, housing and digital infrastructure
• support electric vehicles through £400 million charging infrastructure investment and an extra £100 million to extend the plug-in car grant
• boost our digital infrastructure with over £1 billion of public investment, including £176 million for 5G and £200 million for local areas to encourage roll out of full-fibre networks . 
• launch and roll-out Sector Deals – partnerships between government and industry aiming to increase sector productivity; the first Sector Deals are in life sciences, construction, artificial intelligence and the automotive sector
• drive over £20 billion of investment in innovative and high potential businesses, including through establishing a new £2.5 billion Investment Fund, incubated in the British Business Bank
• launch a review of the actions that could be most effective in improving productivity and growth of small and medium-sized businesses, including how to address what has been called the ‘long tail’ of lower productivity firms

Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK, said: “By working in strong partnership with national and local government, we have created a very positive example of Industrial Strategy in action for the off-shore wind industry in the Humber which is creating a new and vibrant local economy.”

“Through the Industrial Strategy announcement we are optimistic that through greater investment in R&D, and especially through the application of advanced industrial digital technologies like AI and robotics, we can support many more new and existing manufacturing industries - raising productivity and creating thousands of new highly skilled and well paid jobs.”

Mike Hughes, Zone President UK & Ireland at Schneider Electric said: “The UK Government’s industrial strategy to catapult it towards a more circular economy is welcomed by Schneider Electric.

“We can maximise the value extracted from resources through better energy management, but to tackle issues such as capacity, productivity and welfare, amongst others, the central acceptance and further integration of automation is crucial. 

“Any industrial strategy must acknowledge that the workplace is being transformed at unpreceded speed. Automation can provide the necessary education, upskilling and productivity the UK needs. The understanding of its necessity and harmonisation of cobotics needs to be recognised before the UK can claim it can do more for national infrastructure renewal through clean energy technologies.”

Click here to read ‘Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future’

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