By Claire West
A new strategy that will generate fresh growth opportunities for some of the UK’s most innovative technology businesses will be published today.
Developed in partnership with industry, the Information Economy Strategy will make it easier for businesses to access public services online, for example, by providing a single digital view of their tax affairs. It will also help 1.6 million small and medium sized businesses grow their online presence and allow them to exploit new technologies.
The strategy will be unveiled by the Prime Minister, who will also announce a £1 million fund to kick start development of an innovative solution to a global problem of our time.
Speaking to a group of senior international business leaders at the G8 Innovation Conference in London, the Prime Minister will say.
“More than any time in history our world is being shaped by innovation, new ideas, new technologies and new companies. This is the story of the global economy.
“Countries around the world have got to get this. Jobs and growth depend on it. We’ve all got to open up our economies to innovation, we’ve got to nurture new ideas, we’ve got to bend over backwards to attract the best and the brightest. A global race is underway and it is waiting for absolutely no one.”
The Information Economy Strategy sets out a range of key actions, including:
• Digitally transforming 25 of the top 50 public services over the next 300 days, including plans to give businesses a single, online view of their tax records. This will enable them to check that all of their information is in order and do simple tasks online quickly - like setting up PAYE for a new employee, reducing the need to pay for expensive specialists to navigate the tax system.
• Launching a new programme to help 1.6 million SMEs scale up their business online over the next five years. This industry-led initiative will target SMEs that either are not online, or want to improve their current online facilities so they can do things like process electronic payments, sell goods overseas and developing cloud computing.
• Publishing a data capability strategy in October 2013, developed in partnership with government, industry and academia. The strategy will build on the recommendations in Stephan Shakespeare's review of Public Sector Information and the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology’s report on algorithms, and will be published alongside the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
• Getting ahead in the global race by establishing the world’s first facility for testing state of the art 5G mobile technology, working with industry and the University of Surrey.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, said:
“In order to achieve strong and lasting growth, we need to back our most innovative businesses.
"There are growing clusters up and down the country, with areas like Bristol, Manchester and Cambridge excelling in advanced information technology. By developing the information economy we will provide the skills, digital services and new technologies to grow the UK economy and create jobs outside of London.”
The strategy will also bring together academia and business to develop a digital skills strategy in a sector which employs over 1.5 million people in the UK. This will include the promotion of innovative teaching tools in schools, encouraging more young people (especially girls) to pursue jobs in the information economy, and creating a programme of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) for computing and data science.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, said:
“It is is excellent that we are launching the information economy strategy to support our most innovative companies. This sector is rapidly growing and making a real difference to our day to day lives. By giving businesses the tools they need to develop new technologies we will provide new growth and job opportunities across the UK.”
As part of the partnership with industry and academia, the government has set up the Information Economy Council. The council will set the agenda for future progress of the strategy and monitor its progress.
Victor Chavez, President of Intellect, CEO of Thales UK and co-chair of the Information Economy Council said:
“The dynamism of the UK's information economy is one of our true strategic advantages, but it must be constantly strengthened to keep ahead of the global competition.
“We need to attract talent and investment, and that means making long-term improvements to skills, infrastructure, security, and how we leverage our people and data assets. Critically, we must ensure the benefits of technology are accessible for every UK citizen.
“Government, industry and research organisations all have a role to play in driving this forward, and that’s why the Information Economy Council is focused on bringing all three to bear on these critical issues.”
The strategy is launched on the same day as the government responds to two further reports looking at the importance of data to our economy and society. First is the Shakespeare Review on the use and reuse of Public Sector Information.
The government has accepted in full or part all of the Review’s recommendations, which include developing a data capability strategy, and releasing data prioritised in the drive for technology-led economic growth.
Second is the government’s response to the Administrative Data Taskforce (ADT) report which looked specifically at the reuse of administrative data for research and statistical purposes by researchers.
The government supports the broad recommendations in the report and is committed to working with the research community in unlocking the research potential of data collected and held by government. This would be of value both within government and to the wider research community and therefore ultimately to the public.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said:
“Open data is a critical part of the data-led revolution that is transforming how we live and work. It is a building block for prosperity and more effective public services.
“Building on the recommendations of the Shakespeare Review, the government will include details of a new national Information Infrastructure in our revised Open Government Partnership National Action Plan due to published in October.
“Working with data users, we will identify the data we hold that should be part of that new National Information Infrastructure. This data will be available for release to support economic growth and the developers and entrepreneurs who use open data to build information-led businesses — helping us compete in the global race.
“The UK is already a world leader on open data, a cause we champion as current president of the G8, and through our lead co-chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership, promoting open government and open data in democracies around the world.”
Today’s announcements will be made at the G8 Innovation Conference at the Siemens Crystal building in London. Over 250 international innovative business leaders from 22 countries will be present to discuss ways in which the UK can continue to be a world leader in innovation.
The Information Economy Strategy follows the recent launch of strategies for the Oil and Gas, Aerospace and Nuclear industries and is the next step in the government’s overall industrial strategy.