Thank you very much for coming this evening.
I’m particularly grateful to the Royal Society for hosting us. There is nowhere better that captures not just the illustrious, historic achievements of British thought and action – founded by William Petty, Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle and with over 80 Nobel Prize winners as fellows or former fellows – but of the current strength of British science, research and engineering.
It was my great privilege 18 months ago as Science Minister to launch here – in this building – our science and innovation strategy and a review lead by Sir Paul Nurse, the then President of the Royal Society. This review was based on how we make sure our research and science base continues to be supported to achieve future successes as breath-taking and as transformational as those that have been achieved in the past.
The principles that underpinned our science and innovation strategy:
- collaboration between disciplines and sectors
- the importance of place
- openness and internationalism
are principles that have an application beyond science policy and will help inform the development of the new industrial strategy that, together, we will form.
I am thrilled to have been asked by the Prime Minister to lead a new department, combining the strengths of energy, climate, science, research, business and enterprise, with an explicit responsibility for industrial strategy.
And I’m delighted that my ministerial team – and many of my officials – are here tonight.
I am fortunate to have one of the strongest teams in government.
Nick Hurd – Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry
Jo Johnson – Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation
Baroness Neville-Rolfe – Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property
Margot James – Minister for Small Business, Consumers, and Corporate Responsibility
Jesse Norman – Minister for Industry and Energy
Energy and industry is a pretty good summing up of the whole team.
Tomorrow, I am publishing their particular responsibilities, but every team I have run has been just that – a team working closely together to develop and put in practice our industrial strategy.
When I met the Prime Minister it was clear that this was her personal vision. It’s an important moment when we have explicit recognition that the government should deliberately take a strategic approach to business and the economy.
But what does the use of the word strategy imply?
A number of things:
- that we should take a long-term, predictable and sustained approach to policy making
- that we should recognise that our government should be actively engaged in promoting, and also defending, those things that contribute to a successful environment in which businesses can be founded, can expand and can prosper
- a strategy makes connections between what might otherwise be disparate forces. Aligning them, rather than leaving them isolated or even opposed – between government policy and business decisions, between government departments, between industries and places, between research and practice
- that we should be aware of and capitalise on our strengths while constantly seeking new opportunities that, together, will determine how we make our way in the world
We should form this strategy together, because it is obvious that no successful strategy can be drawn up without the full hearted participation of the people who know their industries, their prospects, their technologies and their strengths.
The people who live and breathe business, research, science and innovation.
Our most successful industries – like the automotive, aerospace and space sectors to name just 3, here today – have benefited from working together to create the conditions for future success.
And so far from the government dictating or prescribing what should be done, very often it is the opposite.
Our extraordinary scientific excellence owes much to the principle that government does not interfere in expert judgements, but it supports the institutions and the environment that allows that excellence to flourish.
I and my ministers will be active and energetic in meeting you and helping you express what you need from the government, whether that is an active involvement or staying out of the way.
Vital though it is to muster our current strengths and to enhance them, we must always be open to change.
A strategic government must not be the protector of incumbency, but be constantly looking to create conditions to be open to new competitors, and policy that is open, indeed, to new industries that may not exist anywhere today, but which may shape our lives in the future.
An industrial strategy must represent the interests of consumers – current and future – who want to benefit from excellence and innovation and competitive prices.
And it is obvious that long-term industrial success cannot be achieved without the employees – and owners – of a business being valued and rewarded. In the case of the former, not just materially but in terms of the extraordinary opportunities for fulfilment and progress that successful businesses can offer.
Of course, businesses don’t exist at a national level. Every business is located in a particular place.
And just as nation states can be conducive to prosperity – or put obstacles in the way – places can, too, such as:
- by having good transport connections
- a well trained and educated workforce
- a pro-business leadership – help business success or, in their absence, impede it
In competing for investment, Cambridge, England competes with Cambridge, Massachusetts and it is essential that we have a deep understanding of the needs of particular cities, towns and countries.
I’m delighted to see many local enterprise partnerships here tonight.
Public policy matters.
Yesterday I was in Tokyo talking to major Japanese investors – valued partners in our economy – who have intense interests in ensuring the terms of our negotiation with Europe will continue to make Britain their choice for investment.
Our climate change commitments – in which we have played a leading global role – have driven the growth of our renewables sector, including the hugely important £1 billion Siemens investment in Hull.
An important advantage of taking the long view is that it affords us the ability to build relationships which depend, by definition, on making sustained rather than one-off contact and interaction.
My ministerial team and I will value our relationships with you that will inform and deepen our mutual understanding, to the benefit of our country
We have an immense opportunity during the years ahead as we move from the uncertainties of the referendum to build a strong, confident, successful country:
- trading globally, breaking new frontiers and innovation
- being a global leader in international forums from climate change to medicine
- being a world-renowned environment in which new ventures and small businesses can be established and pursued with agility and flexibility and in a culture of encouragement
- being a trusted partner in international ventures through being a haven of stability, dependability and openness
The people gathered here tonight are the leaders of our country every bit as much as the government.
I and my team look forward to working with you to help you exercise that leadership in every part of the country and in all of the industries and institutes and businesses that you represent.
Thank you very much for coming tonight.