'Inadequate' industrial strategy gets tepid welcome

"The way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers is being transformed by new technologies".

Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, warned that today's announcement "must be the beginning of a strategic race, not a tactical sprint", and urged the government to ensure the effects of Brexit were not allowed to harm industrial strategies as they are rolled out across the nation.

As for the "Future Mobility" challenge, the Government repeated the measures announced in last week's Autumn Budget, which include multiple investments in clean mobility: £400 million Charging Infrustructure Fund and a £100 million Plug-in Car Grant.

It is also being backed by a £725m fund for innovations along with an increase in research and development investment.

"Strong discovery capabilities and the pursuit of scientific excellence are foundational to MSD's mission to save and improve lives around the world", said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president of MSD Research Laboratories.

Business Finance analyst Carl D'Ammassa, at investment bank Aldermore, said: "It is early days for the Government's new Industrial Strategy, however it appears that the lofty ambitions for the Strategy are yet to translate into awareness".

Maddalaine Ansell, University Alliance chief executive, said: "It is particularly welcome that today's White Paper signals a more strategic role for the Office for Students in identifying the future skills needs of the United Kingdom economy".

The company said it viewed Britain as a world-leader in science, although a spokeswoman said Brexit raised "some very real concerns" for the supply chain, drug regulation and the ability to attract talent to Britain.

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The industrial strategy follows hot on the heels of the clean growth strategy (CGS), launched in October.

In addition, Qiagen is announcing details of a brand new partnership with Health Innovation Manchester that has the intention to develop a genomics and diagnostics campus in Manchester.

CEO of QIAGEN, Peer M. Schatz said: "We are very excited about this partnership with Health Innovation Manchester, and the essential engagement of the University of Manchester, the NHS Trust and the United Kingdom government".

It also comes on the same day that the United Kingdom government is due to publish a white paper on industrial strategy in a post-Brexit economy, with the aim of tackling a range of issues such as the country's stagnant productivity, the lop-sidedness of the country's economy in favour of London and the southeast (not addressed in MSD's case) and improve workforce skills. Better planning for waste and waste-derived resources around the country, especially to provide sufficient capacity of the right kind in the right place to support local economic development, is a key ask.

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.

This stems from the 2,000 responses the government received to its original green paper, published earlier this year, which suggested that it takes a whole systems approach to the energy market.

Each Grand Challenge represents an open invitation to business, academia and civil society to work and engage with the government to innovate, develop new technologies and develop strategies to seize these global opportunities.

  • Rita Burton