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Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges

Grand challenges

31 May 2018

A series of lunchtime debates was held last week at the Resolution Foundation – chaired by former Science Minister Lord Willetts – to engage delegates with the progress of the Industrial Strategy’s four Grand Challenges.

Each discussion included a contribution from a Minister, who updated business and industry representatives in each field on how solving each Grand Challenge would boost productivity and drive economic growth.

The Future of Mobility 

Autonomous vehicle

Transport Minister Jesse Norman attended the first session of the week to discuss The Future of Mobility. The current mission to improve the UK’s transport sector is to make all new cars and vans effectively zero emission by 2040, which would lead eventually to the removal of all petrol and diesel cars from UK roads.

‘Mobility should be accessible for everyone,’ said Norman, and the Government aim to achieve this by investing £1.5bn into the sector between 2015 and 2021. He identified innovative projects such as Whim – based in Birmingham – that allows flexibility between travel options for commuters.

Transport issues identified at the event that need to improve include:

  • Creating legislation that encourages change in the industry, particularly in the areas of vehicle data, electric vehicles (company car tax and vehicle excise duty regime) and mobility services
  • Connecting rural areas with improved public transport services to reduce isolation in society – there is some crossover here with the Ageing Society Grand Challenge, as this is an issue that especially affects the elderly

Both Science Minister Sam Gyimah and Digital Minister Margot James were present at the next panel, which focused on AI. The government wants to harness innovation in data and AI to improve the prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030.

Sam Gyimah Margot James

James highlighted the need for skills development in schools and for younger people to adapt to these new technologies. ‘The AI and Data Grand Challenge […] is focused on greater earning power for people across the UK,’ she said. Supporting the expansion of the Alan Turing Institute to become the leading education centre for data technology and science is part of this strategy, James said.

Artificial Intelligence

Robot

Ageing Society

Old man on a skateboard

Care Minister Caroline Dineage spoke at the Ageing Society event to discuss how the government is working to harness innovation to improve the lives of the UK’s ageing population. The first mission announced was to ensure people enjoyed an extra five healthy and independent years of life by 2035. By providing this, the government could ensure sustainable public spending and reduce inequality, she said.

Dineage said that there is the potential to build a strong and vibrant environment for design and innovation in the area through research centres, such as the National Innovation Centre and the Hamlyn Centre.

Future goals for this Grand Challenge include:

  • Build on regional strengths by working with Local Enterprise Partnerships to establish local strategies and support businesses working to improve care for the ageing
  • Work with industry to establish both national and overseas consumer markets to improve financial security in the health sector

The week's final session saw Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry. She was keen to highlight the UK’s achievements in the area, noting that since 1990, no other country has decarbonised its industries as much, and outlined the Grand Challenge’s first mission – halve the energy use of new buildings by 2050.

There is a huge economic opportunity to be at the forefront of clean growth, said Perry, in particular in electric vehicles and renewable energy – innovation could make the technologies cheaper.

SCI was involved in the development of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, launched in 2017, through the Developing a Low Carbon Future for the Chemical Industry (pdf download) report we produced with the Chemical Growth Partnership.

Perry went on to flag possible future missions:

  • Improving Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) resources in the UK
  • To develop the hydrogen economy

Clean Growth

Wind farm

By Georgina Hines and Amy Larsen

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