Fourth industrial revolution could unlock £445b for UK
Britain’s manufacturing sector could unlock £455 billion over the next decade and create thousands of jobs if it cracks the fourth industrial revolution and carves out a successful post Brexit future. That is the conclusion of a government commissioned review on industrial digitalization, led by industry chief Jürgen Maier, the UK and Ireland boss of German engineering giant Siemens, according to The Guardian.
A deal between government and industry could put Britain at the forefront of new technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, giving a much needed productivity boost and a net gain of 175,000 highly skilled, better paid jobs.
Maier — who was tasked by Theresa May with providing a long-term vision for the industry — said the ambitious proposals outlined in the review could serve as an ‘antidote’ to some of the tough challenges and higher costs facing the manufacturing sector as a result of the Brexit vote.
“The business and academic community has set out a vision for much greater ambition needed for Britain to be a world leader in the fourth industrial revolution,” Maier said.
“The good news is Britain is not starting from nothing. The UK has brilliant knowledge, assets and skills in this space but it is sometimes not as organized as it could be.
“This combined package of measures will boost UK growth and productivity in manufacturing and provide more exports and increased earning potential, which our economy desperately needs.”
The 246-page review brings together in a series of recommendations the views and input from over 200 firms and organizations, including Rolls-royce, Accenture and Cambridge and Newcastle universities.
The so-called ‘made smarter’ proposals include building a national digital ecosystem — to be piloted in the northwest — which would give smaller and mediumsized engineering companies the chance to go to a physical space to experiment with new technologies and see how they might be applied to a process in their own factories. Government support through tax incentives and funding would also facilitate the process of adopting new technologies, the review concluded.
The review also recommends the creation of 12 digital innovation hubs as part of a new national innovation program to create new technologies and companies, where startups would work with universities and established firms such as Siemens.
Thirdly, it calls for a new national body, titled Made Smarter UK Commission, including representatives from industry, government and academia to safeguard a longterm commitment to the work, which Maier hopes will lead to the ‘upskilling’ of one million industrial workers in Britain.
The government will now consider the proposals with the ultimate aim of agreeing a sector deal with industry that is likely to involve co-investment. Publication of a government white paper is expected before Christmas.