A new Industrial Strategy

After an appalling but entirely avoidable news cycle centring on what the Prime Minister knew or didn’t know about a failed Trident missile test last Summer, Theresa May launches her Industrial Strategy today with the dual aim of assisting the delivery of her ambitious social agenda and to help ready the country for a post Brexit environment.

Launching a government green paper to underpin the emerging strategy, it’s clear that this is one of a number key policies which puts flesh on the bones of her belief that government is a ‘force for good’ and that direct government intervention is key to delivering a country and economy that ‘works for everyone’.

Whilst there’s little or no new money coming at the current time, the strategy is ambitious in its aims, with ‘ten pillars’ and a broader focus beyond London with a recognition that different regions have different needs. The strategy is closely aligned with the £4.7bn package of R&D funding announced in the Chancellor’s autumn statement.

The Ten Pillars are targeted on areas including;

  • Encouraging innovation
  • Driving up technical skills
  • Improving related or dependent infrastructure
  • Nurturing start-ups and growing businesses
  • Increasing efficiency in procurement and supply lines and
  • Maximising the value of our existing leading edge research

At first glance the announcement looks comprehensive and coherent, ranging from a new education focus, seeking to address existing infrastructure and competitive shortfalls, concentrating on existing strengths and looking how to maximise the potential return from them.

There’s a clear focus on ‘industries of the future’ and the need to extract the full value of our world class research base, with the work in ultra-low emission vehicles used as one example.

The existing business and government partnership in the fields of the automotive and aerospace industries is held up as an example of what might be achieved in other areas such as life sciences, the nuclear industry and the creative industries.

Time will tell if it improves our missile technology.

This article was written by Frank Browne a former leader of Wokingham Borough Council and a member of our non-Executive board.