UK Government industrial strategy aims to make Britain ‘world’s most innovative nation by 2030’

Written by Sam Trendall and Jenni Davidson on 28 November 2017 in News

The industrial strategy promises to make UK world leader in artificial intelligence and data

Electric car charging - Image credit: Press Association

The UK Government’s industrial strategy promises to make technology and data central to the UK’s future, with aim of becoming the “world’s most innovative nation by 2030”.

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest £725m in new programmes, while ‘sector deals’ for construction, artificial intelligence, automotive and life sciences are intended to help those sectors grow.

The white paper focuses on five ‘foundations of productivity’: ideas, people, infrastructure, places and business environment.

Among the commitments is support for electric vehicles through £400m charging infrastructure investment and an extra £100m to extend the plug-in car grant and over £1bn of public investment in digital infrastructure, including £176m for 5G and £200m to encourage roll out of full fibre networks.

UK business secretary Greg Clark said: “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.

“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.”

He added: “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.”

The strategy also lays out four ‘grand challenges’ that the UK Government, working with business, academia, and society at large, has committed to overcoming in the coming years. 

The first of these challenges is to “put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution”.

The second pledges to ensure the UK maximises the benefits of “the global shift to clean growth”. 

For the third challenge, the government vows that the UK will “become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility”.

The final challenge is to ensure that the country uses “the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society”.

Launching the white paper, the UK Government said: “A truly strategic government must do more than just fix the foundations: it must also plan for a rapidly changing future, look to shape new markets and industries, and build the UK’s competitive advantage.”

It continued: “The public and private sector must work with universities, researchers and civil society to put the UK at the forefront of these revolutions, breaking down conventional barriers within and between business sectors and academic disciplines. This is what the grand challenges will achieve.”

Antony Walker, deputy chief executive of TechUK, said that the industry body “strongly welcomes” the UK Government’s commitment to the artificial intelligence sector.

“There is still plenty to do, including supporting those millions of small businesses not yet taking advantage of basic tech,” he said.

“Companies can’t take advantage of AI until they have built their basic digital foundations – we would like to see a digital readiness index to measure progress in building these foundations.”

Walker added: “However, this white paper shows a clear commitment from government to prepare for and embrace the future. 

“Given the challenges that lie ahead for the UK economy post-Brexit, there is a clear need to commit to the long term. This white paper is a great start.”



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