SCI CEO: no time to waste for the new government

5 July 2024 | Sharon Todd, CEO of SCI

SCI CEO Sharon Todd’s message to the new government.

SCI welcomes the outcome of the general election and congratulates Sir Keir Starmer and the UK’s new Labour government. We know that the government's priority is to get the whole of the UK back to economic growth. This will lead to the prosperity that this country deserves and support the public services which have been the envy of the world.

However, growth must be built on a stable foundation – one that allows businesses to feel confident investing in the UK. That foundation must also support a skilled workforce, with homegrown and overseas talent given the opportunity to develop innovative ideas and build businesses that will provide good employment opportunities. This is why we are calling on the new government to put down a marker and use its first 100 days to clearly indicate its intention to support the drivers of economic growth, which includes an industrial strategy.

At SCI we have been pleased to see that the call for an industrial strategy, which we have been championing for the last 12 months, has been a talking point following the launch of our Manifesto for an Industrial Science and Innovation Strategy in August 2023. We have seen incredible momentum, with industrial policy discussed at the highest political levels, and importantly the wider public has also engaged.

A survey commissioned by SCI, and carried out by Whitestone Insight, indicated that 80% of the 2,000 members of the general public questioned agree that attracting more investment in industrial science and innovation in the UK should be a priority for the next government. The survey was carried out between 14 and 16 June 2024.

Research has consistently shown that those countries with well defined industrial strategies average far higher rates of growth. Without a strategy, the UK has been left lagging behind our major industrial competitors and unable to realise the full economic potential of our world-leading research base and scientific talent.

Time is now of the essence. The need for speed in implementing an industrial policy was highlighted by nearly all of the witnesses, myself included, called to the House of Commons Business and Trade Committee’s recent inquiries into industrial policy. Headway was being made during those hearings, and we are hopeful that the findings, so far, will provide valuable guidance on what is needed in a modern industrial strategy.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Plenty of good work has been done by past governments on industrial policy. What we need is swift action, putting into action an industrial strategy that provides long-term certainty for business, investors, entrepreneurs and academia.

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