Industrial Strategy launched: Clean growth at core of UK’s vision for economic prosperity

Business Secretary Greg Clark has today (27 November) launched the UK's much-anticipated Industrial Strategy, which sets out a vision for clean technology and innovation to play a key role in boosting the UK's long-term economic prospects.

The Strategy white paper outlines a plan to tackle the UK’s struggling productivity rates and make the country the world’s “most innovation nation by 2030” by embracing technological change.

The 255-page document focuses on how the Government can support business innovation in the areas of AI, clean growth, medical care and driverless vehicles. The Government has vowed to spend 2.4% of GDP on R&D by 2027, which it hopes will add an extra £80bn in advanced technology in the next 10 years.

Read the green business reaction to the Industrial Strategy here.

PM Theresa May said the Strategy would provide a blueprint for businesses to deliver a “stronger and fairer economy for years to come”. 

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, such as artificial intelligence and big data, whilst also making sure our young people have the skills to take on the high-paid, high-skilled jobs this creates.”

‘Unashamedly ambitious’

The Strategy outlines the creation of sector deals – long-term partnerships between the Government and industry to boost industry productivity. The first sector deals focus on life sciences, construction, AI and the transport sector.

An Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will set £725m set aside over the next three years. Battery storage will take up £246m of that investment, with a £45m competition in place to establish a battery research centre. The document also confirms £162m earmarked for low-carbon innovation and developing a bio-economy strategy.

Unveiling the Strategy this morning, BEIS Secretary 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.

“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.”

Clean growth

The Strategy comes after a green paper consultation earlier this year received almost 2,000 responses from industry and academia. It focuses on five foundations of productivity – ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places.

In regards to infrastructure, the Government has pledged to invest £400m in EV charging points and a further £100m to extend the plug-in car grant, as first revealed in the Chancellor’s Budget last Wednesday. This will be matched by an increased £31bn into the National Productivity Fund, to back investments in transport, housing and digital infrastructure.

A further £20bn will help support innovative and high-potential businesses, with £2.5bn going towards a new Investment Fund. The shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills will be addressed with a £406m fund, while the launch of a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund will aim to improve connectivity, reduce congestion and introduce new mobility services.

‘Core objective’  

The Strategy has been welcomed by members of the green business community, with Aldersgate Group’s chief executive Nick Molho describing it as a clear signal that clean growth is part of the UK’s mainstream economic strategy.

“The Industrial Strategy can have a transformative impact on the UK’s economy, driving low carbon innovation and the continued growth of jobs, skills and supply chains,” Molho said. “It is positive to see that clean growth is now a core objective for the strategy and there is increased focus on energy and resource productivity, and strengthening the synergies between power, heat and transport systems.”

Molho’s thoughts were echoed by Greenpeace UK head of energy Hannah Martin, who said: “Ministers are right to recognise clean energy as a top priority for British industry and regional regeneration. It’s a sector that holds enormous potential for technological breakthroughs, job creation and boosting productivity.

“Britain’s economy needs a clean, flexible, and affordable energy system. And it needs to give people clean air by speeding up the end of diesel vehicles. A system led by offshore wind, smart technology, battery storage and electric vehicles will make that happen.”

An independent Industrial Strategy Council will be launched next year to hold Ministers to account over progress.

The Government’s new plan will work alongside the Clean Growth Strategy, released last month, to help push the UK towards its future carbon budgets. As part of that Strategy, the Government has pledged multi-billion-pound investments into low-carbon innovations and household energy-efficiency.

George Ogleby

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