IOP responds to release of green paper on industrial strategy

23 January 2017

The IOP has welcomed the prioritisation of science, research, innovation and the development of a STEM-skilled workforce as part of a modern industrial strategy for Britain in the government’s green paper published today.

IOP responds to release of green paper on industrial strategy

The publication, Building our industrial strategy, was put out for consultation with responses invited by 17 April.

It sets out 10 “strategic pillars” to underpin its approach: investing in science, research and innovation, developing skills, upgrading infrastructure, supporting businesses to start and grow, improving procurement, encouraging trade and inward investment policy, delivering affordable energy and clean growth, cultivating world-leading sectors, driving growth across the whole country and creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

Professor Paul Hardaker, chief executive of the IOP, said: “The opportunities highlighted by the government in today’s announcement – whether in smart energy, robotics, artificial intelligence or 5G mobile network technology, as well as our world-leading capabilities in quantum technology and photonics – all have their roots in our physics labs.

“It is therefore no surprise that the prime minister is prioritising investment in science, research and innovation. As we know well, this leads to growth in the economy, increased productivity and jobs. Each of the two million people employed in physics-based industries, around 7% of the entire UK workforce, contributes an average of £88,000 per annum in value added to our economy, more than double the average for the UK.

“We will help the government identify areas of excellence and ways to exploit them. However, we also need to increase the STEM workforce. This has to begin in our schools. We already deploy a network of specialist physics teachers around the country to provide a better experience of classroom physics. We improve uptake post-16 by breaking down the barriers that are faced by many students, particularly girls, and support them to pursue a career in STEM, whether in our businesses or our universities.”

IOP president Professor Roy Sambles added: “Physics presents significant opportunities for modernising our infrastructure, whether that’s for digital, transport, water or energy.

“We should also not forget the important role that the major physics facilities in the UK play. The Diamond Light Source in Harwell, the Jodrell Bank Observatory, the UK’s Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, the High Value Manufacturing Centre in Sheffield, the Accelerator Science and Technology Centre at Daresbury in Cheshire or the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading are just some examples of our world-class capabilities.

“The UK is an attractive place for world-leading facilities and the scientists that work with them. We will work to ensure that under the new industrial strategy, the UK can continue to be a home for world-class science.”