The consultation period for Industrial Strategy Green Paper closed at the start of this week (Monday 17th April 2017). In the excitement of the snap election and against the backdrop of a contentious debate around Brexit there is a danger that this important development gets lost in the political noise. This would be a shame as it marks a great opportunity to alter the future of the development of the UK and particularly how prosperity can be spread more widely.
A strategic step-change
The announcement of an Industrial Strategy by the Prime Minister shortly after her appointment marked a change in approach to economic growth and development. In that formative announcement the need to promote innovation and the importance of place came through as strong themes. The Industrial Strategy Green Paper outlined ten pillars including innovation and place as well as covering a wide range of other areas. The breadth of these pillars is to be welcomed and they pave the way for a holistic approach to economic strategy and planning.
For the Hub, with its role supporting the implementation of Smart Specialisation, innovation and place are key elements that should be woven through and underpin the rest of the strategy. The Industrial Strategy continues the discussions around place-based concerns and interests kick-started through the Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs) and the place-based initiatives started by Innovate UK, and accordingly the Hub becomes even more important.
An opportunity to shift the paradigm
In our conversations with LEPs skills is a major concern, with a lack of STEM students in schools to too few graduates in science and engineering to meet demand. Brexit poses both risks and opportunities but its potential to impact skills supply is a critical issue. Retention is another issue with availability of affordable housing a problem for a number of areas and a genuine threat to capabilities in some of the country’s most important centres of innovation, research and employment.
The Industrial Strategy is excellent opportunity to tackle to the structural issues and capitalise on the advantages of the UK’s economy in an integrated manner. Doing this effectively will require a mix of local, regional and national interventions including a more flexible and adaptable funding system that has been in place before. Further we need to encourage a collaborative and less combative interaction between areas of the UK if we are to compete effectively in the global economy.
As you would expect there has been much comment, analysis and discourse around the Industrial Strategy and the role of place. There are interesting pieces by the Centre For Cities and Nesta that we broadly support.
Our green paper response in full
You can read the Hub’s response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper in full, available to read and download via our online Library.