With strengths in world-class technology, research and development, the UK is well positioned to respond to global changesby Richard Harrington / September 14, 2017 / Leave a comment
Britain’s first Industrial Revolution began with a series of small inventions. The spinning jenny, which revolutionised how cotton was spun, sparked demand for new products, encouraging engineers and artisans to compete and collaborate. These people shaped the world we live in today. But today we confront the fourth Industrial Revolution—the digitalisation of society. Exploiting innovations, large and small, is critical and will require a commitment from government, businesses and society. In January, Theresa May launched the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper. It was a vision designed to create conditions that boost the earning potential of people, companies and places. At its heart is the question of how to increase productivity, boost skills and improve infrastructure. Part of our focus is on working with business to identify opportunities where a partnership with government could help. Take life sciences. In August we announced our investment, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, of £146m in five projects involving advanced medicines, vaccine development, and cell and gene therapy. We are in negotiations with the life sciences sector about a potential “Sector Deal” where government and industry will work to boost Britain’s standing in international healthcare. The response has been strong. We already have innovation hubs around the country and the UK’s health data is already helping medical research. This has helped in securing high-profile commitments to the UK, such as AstraZeneca’s multi-million pound investment at its site in Macclesfield. Commitments by both government and industry will improve patient care and secure the UK’s pre-eminence in life sciences through Brexit and beyond. But many businesses and sectors simply want better infrastructure, better skills and better regulation—and our industrial strategy will respond to that too. Just as Britain led the first Industrial Revolution, we are determined to be one of the countries leading the fourth. Our industrial strategy will help us to do this. With strengths in world-class technology, research and development, the UK is well positioned to respond to global changes, and ensure that people around the UK feel the benefits—we are creating an economy that works for all. Richard Harrington will be discussing the government’s industrial policy with Prospect at the Conservative Party Conference.