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BSRIA responds to government's Industrial Strategy White PaperDecember 2017


Julia Evans OBE, Chief Executive, BSRIA
BSRIA has welcomed government’s Industrial Strategy which has set out four “Grand Challenges” to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future: AI & Data Economy; Future of Mobility; Ageing Society and Clean Growth: “we will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth”.

Key policies include: ideas; business environment; infrastructure; places and people: an additional £406m in maths, digital and technical education, helping to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

The strategy specifically highlights driving up the study of maths which should not be perceived as an exceptional talent: it is a basic skill that can be mastered with the right teaching and approach, as shown by OECD evidence from successful models such as Singapore, Switzerland and Denmark.

It has also stressed the need to create a new National Retraining Scheme that supports people to re-skill, starting with a £64m investment for digital and construction training.

And: “Prospering from the energy revolution – around 80 per cent of global energy use still comes from fossil fuels and to preserve a safe and stable climate, this has to change fast. Countries all over the world are moving to renewable energy. But for the majority of our energy to be clean and affordable, we need much more intelligent systems. Smart systems can link energy supply, storage and use, and join up power, heating and transport to increase efficiency dramatically. The move to cleaner economic growth – through low carbon technologies and the efficient use of resources – is one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time”.

Finally: “We will transform construction techniques to dramatically improve efficiency – a rapidly urbanising world needs buildings that can be constructed and operated more efficiently. Our new Industrial Strategy ‘Transforming Construction’ programme will take full advantage of new technologies to provide safer, healthier and more affordable places to live and work that use dramatically less energy to build and run. It will ensure UK businesses develop world leading capabilities in integrating construction, digital energy and efficiency technologies”.

Julia Evans, BSRIA Chief Executive, said:

“It is heartening to see that government aims to boost STEM skills with extensive funding and in particular the reference to the importance of maths. And the need to create a new National Retraining Scheme that supports people in re-skilling, starting with a £64m investment for digital – using artificial intelligence – and construction training. The scheme will then be rolled out across other key sectors. We await further detail on how such training will manifest but this is unquestionably vital since the UK’s housing crisis is, without a shadow of doubt, one of the biggest challenges we face as a country and such investment is needed to attract, train and retain workers to build the houses we need. 

Regarding clean growth and the energy revolution – the recently released government Clean Growth Strategy is also a decisive milestone in the UK’s work to cut emissions and bolster the economy. Clean technology is developing at a fast pace and costs are falling – for example, the cost of offshore wind power has halved in two years. So the UK must ensure it can continue to lead the world in clean growth and new technologies and remain a global leader in the move towards a low carbon economy.

BSRIA has been reporting and analysing the associated perspectives of the smart revolution with sustainable energy, the smart grid and energy storage – including use of batteries – for quite a few years now, both in the UK and globally. It is clear that cheap, efficient, safe energy storage is one of the crucial cogs in the engine that is driving the green energy revolution forward.

This was demonstrated by BSRIA staging its Smart Network Launch – inaugural meeting and workshop – on the morning of Friday 6th October. The next network event will be held on Friday 23rd February 2018 in London. BSRIA also publishes many smart white papers which include: ‘How will Wearables revolutionise HVAC products & services for building Wellbeing’ and ‘Megatrends – Urbanisation’.

The ‘Transforming Construction’ programme should take full advantage of new technologies to provide safer, healthier and more affordable places to live and work is supported by BSRIA. We are involved in both the research behind and the delivery of modern methods of construction (MMC) as the way forward. And new players entering the market – such as the ‘google house’ which was recently discussed at BSRIA’s flagship event – the Briefing. And in this respect – maybe we will at last see an end to the tiptoeing around banana skins and see quality as well as quantity?”

Industrial Strategy White Paper

 

Government has worked with scientific leaders – the Government Office for Science, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) (the Research Councils and Innovated UK), the Council for Science and Technology and the national academies – to identify the four Grand Challenges.

UKRI will join up the funding landscape for science, research and innovation and help translate excellent research into better business outcomes.

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