Global leadership in science and technology means putting the UK at the forefront of applied digital transformation
techUK’s new Supercharging UK Innovation campaign explores what it means for the UK to be a global leader in science and technology and how we can secure the legacy of Turing, Lovelace and Berners-Lee with an innovation ecosystem that is fit for the future.
In the coming year, techUK will work with our members to consider how best to enable innovation by supporting cutting edge R&D in fields like quantum computing and machine learning; how to boost the skills and investment needed to accelerate the growth of tech startups, and how an effective policy environment could help businesses deliver on the ambition of the Government’s Innovation Strategy.
One key pillar of this work is understanding how businesses are applying innovation through digital transformation to be more efficient, productive, profitable, and sustainable.
The Prime Minister sees the ultimate purpose of innovation policy as “practical, appliable solutions” that “deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs, and grow the economy,” and he made that the mission of the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
Achieving that vision means embracing digital transformation in industries across the economy – from manufacturing and healthcare to energy and transport – accelerating the adoption of technologies that will help organisations apply innovation to real-world problems, turn scientific breakthroughs into new products and services, and make better use of data to become more profitable businesses. It’s not enough to have good ideas, we need to be using them.
Global leadership in science and technology means being at the forefront of digital adoption, which has a clear correlation with increased productivity. Unfortunately, while the UK has a thriving tech sector and has made strong progress in sectors like financial services, consumer electronics and online retail, we are still a long way from solving the widely recognised productivity gap. One reason for this is an uneven distribution in how the UK applies innovation.
A study by McKinsey shows that in the decade following the financial crisis the UK performed well on headline digital indicators like internet access, basic digital skills and the adoption of cloud computing, but had significant gaps in using technologies like IoT and AI for core businesses processes such as supply-chain management and enterprise resource planning, and most organisations struggled with end-to-end digital transformation of the value chain.
This reflects what King’s College London’s Institute for Industrial Strategy has referred to as the gap between the UK’s technology creation capacity, the ability to design and develop new technologies through our strong academic and R&D base, and our technology adoption capacity, the ability to integrate new technology into business models and organisational structures. The UK is also held back by uneven distribution across sectors, nations and regions, and between large early adopters and a long tail of SMEs. In short, the UK is good at science and R&D but struggles with process innovation and technology adoption.
If we can solve some of the barriers to digital transformation, including skills and access to investment, and accelerate adoption across the UK, we have the opportunity to boost productivity and economic growth. There is also huge untapped potential for better and more efficient public services in the NHS, local government and education. If the ultimate test of our innovation ecosystem is productivity and prosperity then we need to build on our strong foundations and make every sector a tech sector.
Industries of the Future
As part of our Ingredients of Innovation campaign, techUK’s Industries of the Future series will explore how emerging and enabling technologies are transforming key industries around the world, assess the challenges and opportunities for UK businesses, and consider what more we can do to accelerate digital transformation so that innovation is applied in the real economy in ways that change lives.
If the UK is to call itself a true global leader in science and technology then this must include being at the forefront of digital adoption. Successive governments and countless reports on innovation have set that challenge – let’s make 2023 the next step on the path to meeting it. If you would like to learn more about this work and how you can get involved please visit our Innovation Hub.
Digital Manufacturing - Is the UK missing out? | techUK Industries of the Future
The first Industries of the Future event, in partnership with Make UK, will explore the impact of emerging technologies on manufacturing and how we can accelerate digital transformation in the UK
techUK – Supercharging UK Tech and Innovation
The opportunities of innovation are endless. Automation, IoT, AI, Edge, Quantum, Drones and High Performance Computing all have the power to transform the UK. techUK members lead the development of these technologies. Together we are working with Government and other stakeholders to address tech innovation priorities and build an innovation ecosystem that will benefit people, society, economy and the planet - and supercharge the UK as a global leader in tech and innovation.
For more information, or to get in touch, please visit our Innovation Hub and click ‘contact us’.
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