Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled the Modern Industrial Strategy today. Below is the reaction of our CEO, Gerard Grech.
Our world is changing fast and the tech and digital sectors in which we work are at the heart of those changes. We very much welcome the Prime Minister’s recognition of that, as seen in the Modern Industrial Strategy unveiled today.
The strategy is designed to support the industries of the future and rightly prioritises investing in science, research and innovation. We know from our own Tech Nation report and from our work with fast-growing startup companies that the tech and digital sector can help to increase prosperity and improve lives by providing highly skilled, high-paying jobs in towns and cities across the country. It already employs 1.6 million people and is growing at almost three times the rate of the wider economy.
Increasing the skills and education levels of our workforce is essential if we are to fulfil our potential in this global business so we are delighted that the Government is putting skills and education at the centre of its strategy. While we have world-beating universities, we must now make sure that every child leaves school with high quality maths, science and digital skills. Plans to develop a proper system of technical education will help to address one of the biggest threats to the technology sector: the shortage of available people with strong tech skills.
If technology is to work for the people of the United Kingdom it must be available to all and not just those who live in big towns and cities. Investment in digital networks – particularly 5G mobile networks and fibre broadband – must be accelerated as quickly as possible. This will particularly help the regions of the UK to develop specialisms, as has happened in Manchester, where there is strong e-commerce expertise and in Cambridge, the UK’s third biggest tech cluster which specialises in the internet of things, hardware and software development.
Removing red tape
Entrepreneurial businesses are too often held back by regulation and bureaucracy, as part of this strategy Government must also underline its commitment to make it easier to start and build a business, not harder. There are hardworking entrepreneurs and investors in the digital and tech sectors in every corner of the United Kingdom, but they want to know that they can work with Government and that Government understands the particular needs of their fast-growing businesses.
Research & Development
The UK already has a world-leading position in many of the technologies that are singled out today, including artificial intelligence, robotics and smart energy but we must not lose our edge in this area. The new Industrial Strategy Fund is an important signal of the importance of R&D, if our companies and university departments are to stay ahead of fast-moving developments in the sector. We would also urge the Government to engage with venture capital houses to make sure that it is properly funding those specialisms like artificial intelligence and machine learning, that it has rightly identified as so important to our future growth. The UK already lags behind other countries France, Germany and Japan in the amount of GDP it spends on R&D.
Today’s strategy is a good first step on the way to building an exciting partnership between tech firms and government that can help new tech businesses grow and flourish across the nation, creating jobs and providing prosperity for everyone.
10 pillars of the Industrial Strategy:
- Investing in Science, research and innovation
- Developing Skills
- Upgrading infrastructure
- Supporting businesses to start and grow
- Improving procurement
- Encouraging trade and inward investment
- Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
- Cultivating world leading sectors
- Driving growth across the whole country
- Creating the right local institutions