techUK Policy Pulse | Your weekly update on digital and tech policy

I don’t know if it is the hot weather or just end of holiday season cabin fever but I for one am looking forward to September. Good afternoon and welcome to Policy Pulse.

After spending much of August worrying that the Conference season could be shortened to ensure Parliament had sufficient time to debate Brexit, the opposite has in fact happened with Johnson going to the Queen to prorogue Parliament.

A Queen’s speech has been announced for the 14th October with a new legislative agenda on the horizon. With the parliamentary arithmetic unchanged it is likely that the Queen’s speech will look uncannily like Johnson’s pitch to the country ahead of a General Election.

There are 17 Government bills proceeding through Parliament – including the Trade and Immigration bills, many of these are eligible to be carried over, but rely on agreement through the ‘usual channels’ in what are unusual times.

Away from the high-drama, Tuesday saw the announcement of a £30 million UK-wide competition to enhance technology in countryside communities and help rural Britain grasp the opportunities of 5G technology. This was published alongside a consultation on proposals to simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage. You can read more on both here.

Money was also made available by UKRI this week with £3.5 million announced to support projects developing new accountancy, insurance and legal services based on artificial intelligence and data technologies. You can find out more about the competition and how to apply here.

Over in Europe, this week saw Ursula von der Leyen’s 26th of August nomination deadline pass for Commission nominees. To find out who the nominees are and what happens next have a read of my colleague Sabina Ciofu’s handy guide.

News also came out this week of the BBC’s plans to launch a voice assistant called ‘Beeb’. One unique feature is a pledge that ‘Beeb’ will be able to understand regional UK accents. This won’t be a physical voice assistant but will instead be built into products such as the BBC website and iPlayer.

Finally, and just because this doesn’t even count as the strangest piece of news this week, a bionic seagull has been showcased at the World Robot Conference in Beijing – video here. As my colleague points out – Seagulls are bionic enough without robotic versions being created.

techUK news and events

With Party Conferences now no longer under threat of prorogation (see what I did there),have a look at techUK’s line up of fringe events at both Conservative and Labour Party Conferences. We will also be heading to Bournemouth and Aberdeen for Lib Dem and SNP conferences respectively. If you will be at any or all of them why not drop me a line.

techUK’s Introductory Evening is back for its next edition on the 9th September. If you are thinking about becoming a member or have recently joined then please do pop along andfind out more about techUK – who we are and how we work!

Finally, techUK is entering into its busy period with a number of flagship events happening between now and the end of the year. To find out what we are up to from Building the Smarter State to Creating Digital Futures check out our events page here.

  • Vinous Ali

    Vinous Ali

    Associate Director for Policy
    T 07595 410 658

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