Industrial strategy outlines productivity “grand challenges” UK needs to overcome

The government's whitepaper outlines a new industrial strategy that will look to drive growth in the automotive, construction and life sciences industries

Less than one week after the Autumn Budget, the UK government has published its long-awaited industrial strategy, that looks to improve the nation’s productivity problems by driving growth and innovation in certain sectors.

The 255-page white paper highlights four “grand challenges” that the UK needs to overcome – if it wants to compete economically on the world stage in the coming years.

The grand challenges for UK productivity

AI: Already a world leader in AI, the UK needs to ensure it will lead the world in safe and ethical use of data and artificial intelligence – giving confidence and clarity to citizens and businesses alike. An example of this will be start-ups and big businesses adhering to the impending GDPR regulations.

Clean growth: In keeping with the global shift, UK businesses will need to move to cleaner economic growth – through low carbon technologies. The whitepaper reads that this change will be “felt by businesses throughout the economy, and will involve the reallocation of trillions of pounds of public and private finance towards the pursuit of cleaner growth.”

Mobility: One of the talking points of last week’s budget, the rise of electric cars, as well as more ride-sharing tech businesses, can both combat pollution and ease congestion on the UK’s roads. However, to allow such businesses to flourish, the UK needs to establish a flexible
regulatory framework to encourage such new modes of transport.

Ageing society: With one in three children born today now expected to reach 100, the prospect of longer lives will require people to plan their careers and retirement differently. As a result, the UK needs to support new products and services for the growing global population of older people.

To address said problems, the white paper suggests that investment into the life sciences, construction, AI and automotive industries would go a long way to ensuring the UK’s productivity levels improve.

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Greg Clark, business secretary, said:

“As well as setting a path to improved productivity, our Industrial Strategy sets out four areas where Britain can lead the global technological revolution.

“These four Grand Challenges – in artificial intelligence and big data; clean growth; the future of mobility; and meeting the needs of an ageing society – have been identified on the advice of the our leading scientists and technologists.

“They will be supported by investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and matched by commercial investment.

“Our Industrial Strategy will inform decisions now, and in the future. Other countries have benefit ted from establishing policies and institutions which endure. That is our aim.

“Through the consultation on our Green Paper, over 2,000 organisations from all parts of the United Kingdom have helped shape this strategy.

“That partnership with innovators, inventors, job creators, local leaders, the devolved administrations, workers and consumers will continue as we work together to make our country fit for the future.”

To read the industrial strategy in full, click here.