Smart Machines & Factories
Fighting talk at launch of All-Party Parliamentary Group on 4IR
Published:  22 March, 2017

By Smart Machines & Factories’ Joss Dixon: This week saw a major step forward in the UK’s efforts to establish itself at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the phase of technological advancement that will usher in the age of Industry 4.0.

The launch of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) represents the UK government’s desire to engage with ‘4IR’ and ensure it works to the country’s benefit by establishing it as a modern manufacturer.

Alan Mak, MP for Havant and the APPG’s inaugural chairman, set out his motives and ambitions for the future of Industry 4.0 in Britain: “Our country and the whole world is witnessing an unprecedented wave of new technology” he said. “We as policy-makers in Westminster have to respond”.

Central to this response is Mak’s belief in the UK’s ability to become a world leader in the field through key allocation of resources: “We have to invest in our research and development, our world-class science and technology base”, he added. “We have to upgrade our digital infrastructure, to make sure we’ve got strong foundations for growth in the future.

“We have to back our apprentices and invest in technical education, so that our workforce can take up the jobs of the future”.

The amount of attention this APPG gets from the higher echelons of government is crucial, so Mak was pleased to receive support from the Chancellor of the Exchequer who attended as guest of honour.

Philip Hammond’s speech at the launch clearly indicated his intentions regarding the future of Industry 4.0 in Britain: “The challenge is can we put in place the supporting infrastructure to deliver the capital, the talent, the enterprise, and the regulatory environment which allows the things that are invented here to be innovated, commercialised, and produced here”.

There was also fighting talk from the Chancellor as he lambasted the UK’s previous failures to capitalise on technological innovation, causing “poor productivity performance” that has made the country “lag behind its peers”. Looking ahead, he offered a vision of British industry being an aggressive competitor, building on a “digital sector that is the envy of the world” coupled with “the decision of global tech giants to invest in the UK”.

Hammond promised the full support of the Government, with plans to nurture the future talent of British engineering as well as providing an infrastructure capable of handling the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Part of this will be encouraging further investment through collaboration with businesses in order to ensure the longevity of technological development schemes.