Top business leaders are getting to work on making British industry digital to boost productivity and jobs

Lynsey Barber
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Digital Revolution Installation At The Barbican Centre
Potentially world-leading sectors, such as robotics, will be identified in the review of British industry (Source: Getty)
t's full speed ahead for Britain's digital economy as top business leaders embark on ambitious plans to pull industry into the modern age and position itself at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution.

Increasing productivity and creating highly-skilled jobs will be the focus of the ambitious new plan to put digital technology, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics and the Internet of Things at the heart of modern British industry.

John Lewis chairman Sir Charles Mayfield, Cisco UK chairman Phil Smith and CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn are among the top business leaders who will help develop a new digital roadmap as part of the government's Industrial Strategy, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month.

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The independent review, led by Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier will also involve IBM's UK chief executive David Stokes, Accenture's UK chief executive Oliver Benzecry, GSK's head of global manufacturing Roger Connor and GKN chief executive Nigel Stein.

They will consult with small and big business across Britain over the summer to identify which sectors of British industry stand to best benefit from digital technology and which up-and-coming sectors, such as artificial intelligence, have the potential to become a cornerstone of the economy in the same way as finance or manufacturing

So-called sector deals will see the government rally behind these industries in the form of addressing red tape and ensuring effective funding as well as other measures. The group will also identify areas where new policy can encourage broader investment in new technologies.

"The independent Industrial Digitalisation Review will set out how the UK can maximise the use of digital technology to increase productivity, and create the high-skilled jobs we need for a successful, modern economy," said industry minister Nick Hurd.

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Cultivating world-leading sectors was presented as one of the "10 pillars" of May's post-Brexit industrial strategy, to give Britain a competitive advantage as the world enters what's been dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, led by technological innovation.

“Our review is about defining how the UK can best adopt radical new technologies that will boost productivity and create new high tech jobs across manufacturing and industry. We want the end result to be a sector deal for manufacturing that makes a real difference to companies regardless of their size or market," said Maier.

“It is not yet too late for the UK to take the global lead in this space, but we are in danger of falling behind if we do not take up the challenge now – so our aim is position UK manufacturing and industry at the heart of a new global industrial revolution much like it was over 170 years ago when we first started doing business here.”

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