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Billy Wood

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What London businesses are making of Theresa May’s Industrial Strategy

While much of the government’s Industrial Strategy is focused on bridging the gap between the UK’s regions and London, the overall focus on boosting skills, encouraging innovation and supporting UK industry will have an impact in every corner of the country - whether it’s effective or not.

After Theresa May revealed some of the finer points of her grand industrial plan, we canvassed comment from some leading figures in the capital’s business landscape.

Antony Walker, techUK

“As the vehicle for delivering the UK’s post-Brexit economy, the Industrial Strategy is shrewd to stimulate technologies - like smart energy; robotics and artificial intelligence; and 5G – where the UK has existing strengths.

“Similarly, the early work on industrial digitalisation, led by Juergen Maier, shows The Government has clearly received techUK’s message that a Modern Industrial Strategy is about enhancing the UK’s capacity to drive digital transformation across all sectors.

“The recognition that Industrial Strategy is a process rather than a rigid, one off announcement that lacks the flexibility for meaningful policymaking also underlines the Government’s modern approach - a collaborative and iterative Industrial Strategy must lie at the heart of a truly Global Britain.

“Tech is the paradigm of a modern industrial sector and we will continue to work closely with Government to create the Industrial Strategy for a tech-enabled 21st century economy.”

William Newton, WiredScore

“The new industrial strategy launching today is another example of how the current Government is committed to making digital and future technologies the foundation of the UK economy. Technology has become an increasingly fundamental part of business operations.

“Therefore sound digital infrastructure is key to the growth of the UK’s digital economy and across all industries.

“Demonstrating that the UK has the necessary infrastructure and digital skills base will also be key to ensuring that the country continues to be seen as an attractive place for investment and to do business.

“For instance, nearly two in five tech professionals from the Northern Powerhouse think that improved internet connectivity would make Manchester a more attractive city to UK-based tech companies.”

Christian Faes, LendInvest

“Early rumours about this Industrial Strategy made us worry it would repurpose poor plans from decades past. But what we’re reading today looks forward-looking: it’s encouraging to see innovation in the number one spot on the Prime Minister’s list of priorities.

“There’s no doubting that the PM’s Industrial Strategy is putting SMEs at the heart of their vision for a healthy economy. But government must ensure that this focus extends to those SMEs that deliver the residential and commercial property that the nation critically needs if enterprise is to flourish.

“Putting much needed investment into UK infrastructure is essential and I look forward to seeing more detail on this emerge in the housing white paper before too long.”

John Williams, ACCA UK

“Government intervention to address faltering productivity across the UK is a positive step towards meeting many of the underlying structural challenges facing the economy including regional inequality and low wage growth.

“To succeed Government must prioritise growth driving industries including our world-leading business and professional services sector which accounts for an estimated 14% of GDP. The accounting profession is an important part of this sector as well as a great British export.”

“The need to address the skills gap is more critical than ever. We welcome the focus on STEM industries to up-skill the UK workforce to compete in an increasingly global market.

“Measures to advance research and development in areas such as digitisation and AI in collaboration with our world leading higher education sector will also help provide the foundations for knowledge intensive industries where the UK continues to exceed its competitors.”

Francis Turner, ADYOULIKE

“The vast majority of innovation will come down to the founders and staff of individual companies and from my own experience, government, to date, has done little to nothing to support our own business. My partner and I built up Content Amp, a UK native advertising technology firm, which was completely self-funded, into a successful company.

“Yet when looking for options to scale up and expand our business, both the UK government and also financial institutions were not interested in helping us. Due to this situation we ended up merging with ADYOULIKE, a French native advertising company, in 2014 to fuel a combined global expansion.

“However a helping hand from the government, especially in funding the development of technologies such as AI, can only be a good thing and will assist British businesses to compete globally.”

Ann Francke, Chartered Management Institute

“I welcome Theresa May’s announcement today, recognising the need to invest in the digital, management and engineering skills the UK needs to flourish as a global leader in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“This is an opportunity for the UK to take a global lead and show what responsible capitalism can deliver. This is all the more important given the recent insular, protectionist announcements from President Trump.

“Alongside investing in infrastructure, it’s essential we challenge the UK to accept the value of technical, high level apprenticeships. Unless we can overcome ‘apprenticeship snobbery’ and invest in practical routes that can lead right to the top we won’t boost productivity and create the new, dynamic industries that will set the UK apart.”

If you’d like to have your say, email our London Editor at or leave your comments on this week’s Bdaily Hot Topic which focuses on today’s Industrial Strategy announcement.

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