The government has launched its new-look Industrial Strategy, setting out a long-term vision for building the UK’s economic strength, improve productivity and adapt to technological change.
On 27 November, business secretary Greg Clark announced the Industrial Strategy with the aim of making the UK “the world’s most innovative nation” by 2030.
Included in the plan is a pledge to invest £725m over the next three years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), a newly created government fund which brings together leading researchers and businesses.
The investment will include £170m for the UK construction sector, to help build more affordable housing and safer, healthier work premises. Meanwhile, up to £210m will go on developing precision medicines and improving early diagnosis of illnesses in UK patients.
The Industrial Strategy identifies four global trends shaping the future of the world, and sets out how UK industries can embrace and take advantage of them.
Artificial intelligence (AI) was earmarked as being increasingly important to the UK economy, whilst the “clean growth” revolution will provide advantages for UK firms from the global shift to green energy.
The strategy also sets out the government’s intention to help meet the demands of its ageing society through innovation, and its aim to ensure the “future of mobility”, by becoming a global leader in cross-border movement of people, goods and services.
In a statement announcing the strategy, Clark said: “The Industrial Strategy is an unashamedly ambitious vision for the future of our country, laying out how we tackle our productivity challenge, earn our way in the future, and improve living standards across the country.
“We have a thriving research and science base and are home to a wide range of innovative sectors, from advanced manufacturing and life sciences, to fintech and creative industries.”
This latest commitment follows the first wave of investment into the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund of £1bn, made in April this year. Then, the government invested £246m into the next generation of battery technology and £86m in so-called “robotics hubs” across the UK.
The announcement also follows last week’s renewed commitment to increase investment in UK R&D. In a speech, the prime minister pledged R&D investment rises from 1.7 per cent to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, the result of which could mean £80bn of extra investment in advanced technology over the next ten years.
Commenting on the Industrial Strategy, Theresa May said: “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, 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.”
Read our summary of the Autumn Budget 2017 for small business owners
Welcoming the Industrial Strategy, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said: “This is the only way to achieve sustained wage growth and higher living standards.
“The UK’s 5.5 million small businesses have a huge role to play if we are to increase productivity across the economy, and in every sector. FSB has been delighted to work with the Business Secretary Greg Clark as he delivers this government’s first Industrial Strategy.
“We particularly welcome the focus on improving technical skills, new physical and digital infrastructure and increased research and development. Local industrial strategies and local investment such as the new Strength in Places Fund are also very welcome steps.”
Clark added: “The way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers is being transformed by new technologies. The UK is well-placed to benefit from this new industrial revolution and we start from a position of significant strength.”
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