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Digitalisation review

Digitalisation review unveils plans to boost industry

Published on: 1 November 2017

Input from Newcastle University is part of major plans announced this week to boost the UK’s economy using advanced digital technology.

The proposals were unveiled on October 30th at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry with the publication of the Industrialisation Digitalisation Review. 

Chaired by Professor Juergen Maier the CEO of Siemens UK, a Newcastle University global partner, it outlines the proposals to boost the economy using advanced digital technologies including robotics, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality as well as artificial intelligence.

Industrial Strategy Green Paper

The government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, launched in January, identified industrial digitalisation as one of five potential early sector deals and the Review kick started work with stakeholders to identify opportunities for government and industry to work together.  

Newcastle University, Cambridge University and businesses such as Yamazaki Mazak and Vertizan provided substantive input to the Review, which also included recommendations from companies such as Rolls Royce, GKN, IBM and Accenture. Research and development centres of excellence, the Digital Catapult and High Value Manufacturing Catapult, also co-designed the proposals.

Over 10 years it is estimated that industrial digitalisation could boost UK manufacturing by £455bn, increasing sector growth up to 3% per year; creating a net gain of 175,000 jobs and reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5%.

The proposals include the establishment of a ‘Made Smarter Commission’ to support a national plan to put Britain’s small businesses at the forefront of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’. 

Professor Nick Wright, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Innovation and Business) Newcastle University, said: “Newcastle University is pleased to have been closely involved in the development of these ambitious plans. Industrial digitalisation is an exciting opportunity for the North East region and the UK as a whole.

"There are huge challenges ahead but if industry, government and academia can work together in an innovative and adaptable way the foundations of this work will strengthen the economy, develop new skills and well-paid jobs.” 

Professor Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK and Ireland, said: “The business and academic community has set out a vision for much greater ambition needed for Britain to be a world leader in the fourth industrial revolution.

"Industry is committed to working in partnership with government, and this combined package of measures will boost UK growth and productivity in manufacturing and provide more exports and increased earning potential, which our economy desperately needs. 

“Our ‘Made Smarter’ proposals will help business understand, deploy and create the latest digital technologies, helping to secure more home-grown research and development and the creation of new industries and highly skilled well paid jobs. The proposals build on the UK’s natural technology strengths, whilst setting out a framework to encourage entrepreneurs to develop new technologies that help manufacturers. 

“I look forward to working with Government to consider the recommendations, including those that can be taken forward as part of an ambitious sector deal.”

Three key themes

The Industrial Digitalisation Review considers three key themes – adoption, innovation and leadership: 

Adoption: Building a national digital ecosystem. Government and industry should create a significantly more visible and effective ecosystem that will accelerate the innovation and diffusion of Industrial Digital Technologies. This includes a National Adoption Programme piloted in the North West, focused on increasing capacity of existing growth hubs and providing more targeted support. Additionally the Review recommends up-skilling one million industrial workers to enable digital technologies to be deployed and successfully exploited through a Single Industrial Digitalisation Skills Strategy. 

Innovation: Re-focus existing landscape by increasing capacity and capability through creating 12 ‘Digital Innovation Hubs’, eight large scale demonstrators and five digital research centres focused on developing new technologies as part of a new National Innovation Programme. 

Leadership: Establish a national body, Made Smarter UK (MSUK) Commission, comprising Industry, Government, Academia, FE and leading Research and Innovation organisations, responsible for developing the UK as a leader in Industrial Digitalisation Technologies (IDT) and skills, which has a mandate to develop the UK’s own national Industry 4.0 domestic and global brand. 

The recommendations will be considered carefully by the government and used to inform work towards a sector deal between government and industry. 


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