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24/01/17  Cambridge Network's CEO comments on the government's new industrial strategy

Following an appearance with other Cambridge commentators on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday, Cambridge Network's CEO Claire Ruskin gives her views on Theresa May's new industrial strategy.

Claire Ruskin comments:

We want an industrial strategy because we want long term employment and high job satisfaction for as many people as are willing to be part of it.  To achieve this we need the UK to continue at the forefront of innovation, at world class level, for the success of the country as well as to solve significant world challenges - for example clean energy and medical technology.

A few of us from Cambridge companies (including Raspberry Pi, Darktrace and Owlstone) were interviewed by Radio 4’s Sanchia Berg yesterday as the news was breaking about the new strategy, and we are delighted to find that the items we listed as essential seem to be included in the thinking.

The strategy cites ten pillars ( read them here) and we are actively engaged with businesses, the Local Enterprise Partnership and our universities and colleges in the key items mentioned.

Skills

We need to develop relevant skills in a large number of our young people and we need to recognise the pyramid nature of employment – we need to have people with world-class talent, wherever they come from, to enable high employment levels overall. Good leaders and innovators are a rare resource that we need to recognise and attract for the good of the whole UK. We have a lot of them here in Cambridge and can spread the impact of their good work more widely if we can enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills across the country.

Support

The strategy has a number of aspects, including support for some regions of the UK to be hubs for growth. It isn't easy to set up new hubs and get them to the stage of being productive - Cambridge has been a magnet for skills for 800 years and has been hard at work building commercial success for the past 50. It takes time and it needs active support from government for the infrastructure of education, transport and housing as well as local inspiration.  I am hoping that the local region is recognised as being one of the small number of areas really able to deliver on the world stage immediately, and given the support it needs.

Collaboration

The government can learn a lot from what we have been doing here in Cambridge. We tend to get asked about the magic of Cambridge more from outside the UK than inside - and we emphasise how collaboration is one of the best ways to spread the success more broadly. Invention that happens in Cambridge can benefit other parts of the UK; we need the supply chain and manufacturing that some other parts of the country are so good at, better than Asia and the US. Through Cambridge Network we actively share lessons and encourage collaboration between members and non-members. We continue personal development and collaboration when people are in jobs and can tend to be very focused. We try to inspire schools to encourage more young people into science and technology on the basis that it is fun as well as rewarding.

People

To get world leading research and development we need to bring world-leading people and resources together, and we are always concerned that if we don't encourage those people to meet here they will go elsewhere in the world, not elsewhere in the UK. I am very keen to build on the success we have achieved here for a much wider UK population - Cambridge has 15 companies that have grown locally to be worth over a billion dollars each and they employ many people from a wide region.

See also: PM unveils plans for a modern Industrial Strategy fit for Global Britain

Listen to Cambridge representatives commenting on the new strategy on Radio4's Today programme here (at 1 hour 10 minutes)

See also:
Organisation:  Cambridge Network