By Marcus Leach
A new Foresight project investigating the future of manufacturing out to 2050 was launched today (Wednesday) by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The two-year project will call on industry and academic expertise from the UK and abroad to look at the long-term picture for the manufacturing sector, investigating global trends and drivers of change. It will explore how the UK can maximise these opportunities and provide an evidence base to help policy-makers navigate a challenging and uncertain future.
It is being led by the Foresight team in the Government Office for Science under the direction of the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, and is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The findings will inform Government policy throughout the duration of the project and beyond.
Speaking at the Financial Times Future of UK Manufacturing Conference, Business Secretary Vince Cable outlined the importance of manufacturing in terms of economic growth.
“Manufacturing has a key role to play in economic growth, in particular driving exports and productivity," he said.
"But as industries and technologies evolve, we need to make sure we’re staying ahead of the game. The Government is working with business to support and strengthen the UK's manufacturing capability, through action to drive up investment, innovation, exports and skills.
“I look forward to this report from the respected Foresight team. It will make a powerful contribution to our work supporting British industry and to making sure that we retain our position as a world-class manufacturing nation at the cutting edge of new products and processes.”
Professor Sir John Beddington stressed the importance of manufacturing, and not just by the traditional means.
“It is essential to develop a better understanding of how key trends relating to manufacturing might develop, particularly those related to technology and globalisation," he said.
"This work will help the UK position itself to maximise opportunities in manufacturing, mitigate risks and deal effectively with future uncertainties.
“This timely project will have important findings for the UK economy and worldwide. I am delighted that Vince Cable has agreed to be the sponsoring Minister for this project and I look forward to working with him.”
The project will have a High Level Stakeholder Group to advise on its strategic direction and impact. The group will include senior individuals within the public and private sectors and will be chaired by Vince Cable.
The project will also benefit from a Lead Expert Group of leading academic and private sector experts from a range of disciplines. Working alongside the Foresight team they will help guide the project and secure a robust evidence base that can be used by policymakers to inform future decisions. Members will be announced early in 2012.
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