Industry 4.0 and British Manufacturing: Our opportunity to innovate
09 December 2016
Industry 4.0, otherwise known as the 4th industrial revolution, previously thought to be coming, is now well underway! We've seen other industrial revolutions, but the speed of change in this one is phenomenal. Staying ahead of rapid change and staying innovative will be key for UK businesses to stay competitive and to ensure UK manufacturing is not left behind on the global stage.
So it was encouraging to hear the announcement by the UK government of an extra £2 billion per year in UK R&D investment by the end of this parliament.
A new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will look at targeted funding of key technologies which could include robotics and AI. The Autumn statement also stated that to ensure the UK tax system is strongly pro-innovation, the government will review the tax environment for R&D to look at ways to build on the introduction of the ‘above the line’ R&D tax credit to make the UK an even more competitive place to do R&D.
Greg Clark, the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, has also said the automotive sector, particularly electric vehicles, driverless cars and battery storage, will be an “emblematic area of focus” for the UK and is going to be “one of the big features of the world and Britain’s industrial policy during the weeks, months and years ahead”.
But while the opportunity for closer collaboration between research, government and industry in order to commercialise innovation is important, this is only half the story. Building a pipeline of skilled talent for the sector will also be crucial. What's more, to keep this skilled talent and to keep talent up-skilled, UK manufacturers, including car manufacturers, must continue to foster an ongoing culture of innovation within their organisations.