SCI submits evidence setting out these three commercial targets for a UK industrial strategy

13 February 2024 | Muriel Cozier

‘A refreshed industrial strategy will be vital to keep investments on track ensuring that the UK’s reputation as a global leader does not go further backwards.’

SCI has submitted written evidence to an ‘ambitious new inquiry’ by MPs on the cross-party Business and Trade Committee examining the government’s approach to industrial policy.

Highlighting the UK’s strengths and the government’s stated aim to make the country a ‘science superpower’, SCI’s evidence noted that over several decades the UK had lost ground to its international competitors in commercialising the country’s science base.

Writing in CityAM this morning, SCI CEO Sharon Todd said, ‘what has been lacking is the necessary detail about how an industrial strategy might work. This is why the business and trade select committee’s current inquiry into industrial policy is so important: it is an opportunity for business to fill in the significant blanks.’

‘The US’ Inflation Reduction Act, for example, contains $500 billion in tax breaks and spending for clean energy and to reduce health care costs. R&D in the US will be boosted beyond measure, commercialising state-of-the-art technologies including carbon capture and storage and clean hydrogen,’ SCI’s evidence states.

The evidence also identifies the shortcomings of the sector-based approach which has led to lack of coherent planning. ‘The UK’s current sector-based plans, such as advanced manufacturing and critical minerals, are welcome but are too disparate and disjointed to be considered a thorough or coordinated industrial strategy. The UK is in effect standing still, failing to meet our vast economic potential. We are losing the race to become the next scientific superpower.’

SCI sets commercial targets

Three darts in a mini dartboard 

Recommendations submitted by SCI in its evidence included the establishment of a Innovation & Science Growth Council, improvement of tax incentives to attract large-scale R&D centres, a visa system allowing industry scientists and engineers flexibility to travel in and out of the UK, and rules to allow pension funds to invest in both start-ups and scale-ups.

Along with the recommendations, came three clear commercial targets that SCI believes the government must achieve by 2030 to ensure the success of a new industrial strategy. The targets are:

  1. 15 start-ups, each scaling to £500 million of sales per year
  2. Five UK unicorns listing on the London Stock Exchange
  3. Ten £500 million+ investments in manufacturing.

Cooperation between government and business is vital

SCI's Manifesto for An Industrial Science and Innovation Strategy
Download SCI's Manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy here.

When the inquiry was launched at the end of December 2023, Committee Chair Liam Byrne said: ‘If we’re to boost Britain’s growth we’re going to need to compete harder in a world reshaped by Bidenomics, Beijing and Brussels [...] Both our prosperity and our security now rest on burnishing a new relationship between government and business, and this ambitious new inquiry will help us test whether ministers have it right - and where change is needed.’

SCI’s evidence is rooted in its Manifesto, which was launched last year and has received widespread support from industry, as well as endorsement from three prominent former Business Secretaries.

House of Lords debates an industrial strategy


On 1 February, as the deadline for submitting evidence to the inquiry came to a close, the House of Lords held a debate: ‘This House takes note of the case for a comprehensive industrial strategy for the United Kingdom.’ It heard submissions from all sides calling for an industrial strategy to benefit the UK economy.

Reflecting the comments of many, Baroness Blake of Leeds said: ‘The transition to net zero presents a great opportunity for the UK to realise its ambitions for economic growth, lower energy bills, energy security and jobs.

‘A refreshed industrial strategy will be vital to keep investments on track, ensuring that the UK’s reputation as a global leader does not go further backwards and that essential investments flow into the UK and not just to our global competitors.

‘Businesses are telling us that they need certainty, consistency and clarity as we go forward to deliver our objective. It is my firm belief that a clear policy framework is essential to enable businesses to work with the government to deliver the step change we need.’

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