22 Jul 2024


Commission aims to boost UK productivity and create jobs

Maier: “If we get this right, I believe we can kick-start a new industrial revolution"

A group of UK manufacturing business leaders and academics have joined forces with the government to create the Made Smarter Commission, which aims to make UK manufacturing “smarter”. The inaugural meeting of the commission, held on 27 September, was chaired by Siemens CEO Professor Juergen Maier and Business Secretary Greg Clark and follows the publication of the Made Smarter Review almost a year ago.

The commission aims to drive forward digital developments to boost productivity in British manufacturing, to create more highly-skilled jobs, and to enable more efficient, cleaner production systems. It forms part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The commission consists of nine men and eight women from business, trade bodies and academic institutions, and includes top-level representatives from EEF, GE Digital, Renishaw, the CBI, ABB, Nestle, Rolls Royce, the TUC, and Jaguar Land Rover.

Priorities for its first meeting included discussing the pilot for adopting digital technology by manufacturers in North West England, and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for digital manufacturing which aims to bring together UK researchers with business to tackle industrial and societal challenges.

The commission also discussed how the manufacturing industry can be transformed by new technologies such as 3D printing, as well as the need for stronger and more ambitious leadership.

“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are creating opportunities for UK manufacturing to continue to grow,” says Clark. “We need strong partnership between government and industry, which is exactly why we have established the Made Smarter Commission.

“I am proud that leading men and women from industry, business and academia are working with us to turn the ambition into a reality and enable everyone to reap the rewards,” he adds. The commission “is designed to oversee and take forward a plan for the sector, including how manufacturing will help realise the Grand Challenges, putting the industry at the heart of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.”

According to Maier, the commission “promises to deliver [the Made Smarter Review’s] core recommendation of driving digitalisation across UK and invigorating industrial strategy. We need now, more than ever, to unite business, employees and government behind a strategy that boosts industrial productivity and improves living standards.

“We will build on our North West Pilot, and look at how we can scale our efforts up across the country,” he adds. “If we get this right, I believe we can kick-start a new industrial revolution, that puts digital tech at the centre of economic policy-making.”

EEF CEO Stephen Phipson describes the formation of the commission as “a bold step in harnessing the expertise right across our sector, and companies right across the spectrum should applaud the government for setting it up. We look forward to helping it play a key role in helping unleash the potential of manufacturing as part of the fourth industrial revolution and a modern industrial strategy.”

The UK is one of the world’s ten largest manufacturing economies and the fourth-largest in the EU. In 2017, manufacturing GVA (gross value added) totalled £186bn and supported 2.7 million jobs (with estimates of 5 million across the whole of the manufacturing value chain). The sector still accounts for 48% of UK’s exports of goods and services.

Business secretary Clark predicts that the increased adoption of digital technologies “will bring enormous benefits, potentially generating £455bn over the next ten years ­– boosting productivity, creating thousands of new highly skilled jobs and enabling more efficient, cleaner production systems”.