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Industrial Strategy: what it means for diversified industrials

Industrial Strategy: what it means for diversified industrials
  • United Kingdom
  • Industrials


A note from Robin Johnson, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland on the recently released Industrial Strategy white paper.

The 2017 Industrial Strategy white paper was released on Monday, November 27 and was welcomed as a good start during the annual Diversified Industrial Conference. The paper sets out a framework for UK growth post-Brexit and, indeed, in a post-industrial society.

Corporation tax rates remain low amongst the G20 and this paper further supports research and development investment. It follows on from last week’s budget announcement, which raised R&D credits to 12 percent.

By focusing on broadband and communication technology (and sectoral hubs), the paper recognises and affirms that connectivity forms a key part to a regional approach to an industrial policy.

By highlighting four ‘grand challenges’ for the next decade, it sets out where government social and regulatory policies will be focused.

The investment in robotics, artificial intelligence and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) acknowledges the fact that industry and technology advances are inextricably linked.

The dramatic revolution in the auto and energy sector has led to a new shift of focus on clean technology and renewable energy. This supports the move away from oil and coal to battery and electric technology. To a degree, it can even be said that the UK is catching up with Asia on this.

The above issues have a consequence on mobility - both for our own residents and in terms of our ability to develop products and services in this space - as well the inability of an aging workforce to cope. Having a skills strategy for young people who are entering the workforce is essential, given the failings of the apprenticeship levy thus far. It’s also vital that we look to reskill the older workforce, to improve productivity and ensure growth is spread across all regions. Mobility remains a challenge to implement.

Rightly, the paper recognises that industrial strategy must be about ideas, rather than capacity. This links into having an education strategy.

It is important to note that macro political issues could derail this strategy if the UK does not get the right trade deal post-Brexit, and global industrial corporates decide to place their investments elsewhere in the EU trade block.

Unless a trade deal with the EU is negotiated, the white paper may simply end up being another policy that is incapable of being executed.

Charlotte Walker-Osborn, also Partner at Eversheds Sutherland, speaks about the potential impact of the Industrial Strategy for Artificial intelligence.

Whether the investments in robotics and artificial intelligence are bold enough has to be questioned, but there is no doubt that focus in these areas are to be welcomed both for our industrials and for our tech sectors; whether smart factories, automotive, technology companies or otherwise. The UK is already making impressive strides in terms of impacting the mobility agenda and it is crucial that we see further investment to support this.

Artificial intelligence is and will continue to revolutionise many parts of the industrial and other sectors: the UK holds great skills in this area, and further investment will bolster its ability to compete and claim its place on the world stage. It is critical for the UK to continue to be able to innovate and be supported by government and policy-making by way of both investment and supercharged policy-making.