Open call for evidence

An open call for evidence was held between February and May 2017.

Over 80 individuals and organisations shared written evidence with the Commission (the full list of submissions can be found in the final report).

We ran the call for evidence to identify new ideas and thinking. Details of the call can be found on this page.

Submitting evidence

As part of our programme of evidence collection, we invited all interested parties to share with us relevant information, ideas and comments about industrial strategy that address the Commission’s four research themes and the research questions:

  1. Assessing the UK economy

  2. Future Challenges and Opportunities

  3. The role of the state

  4. Learning lessons

All of the evidence submitted was considered by the Commissioners and used to inform the Commission’s recommendations and analysis. Evidence submissions focussed on individual themes and questions or addressed the themes as a whole.

We were happy to receive submissions which had already been published or written for elsewhere, and submissions highlighting relevant reading we should consider. We were also happy for submissions to the government’s green paper consultation to be submitted to us.

Evidence themes

  1. Assessing the UK economy

1.1 An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the British economy

What are the UK’s economic strengths? Are there dormant strengths that can be revived, and are strengths such as finance inhibiting wider industrial development? How will this change, given that there may be Brexit-linked systematic shifts in relative comparative advantage of different sectors of the economy? How should industrial strategy encourage service sector innovation, in both the public and private sector?

1.2 Skills and their distribution across the country

How should an industrial strategy consider skills at all levels (including technical and intermediate skills as well as HE)? How well is the skills landscape connected to industry, and how responsive is it to the demands of new industry and new technology? What is the relationship between locally embedded skilled workers and national skills needs?

1.3 The geography of growth

How should industrial strategy build on the distinctive character, experience and strengths of different places, enabling growth in all parts of the UK? How should an industrial strategy take inequality into account? What is the appropriate level for industrial strategy powers to be devolved to, and how do choices about devolution shape the state’s ability to develop the economy?

1.4 The wider drivers of productivity

What is the relationship between growth industries and the economy as a whole? Does industrial strategy need to consider the less profitable ‘foundations’ of economic life? How does industrial strategy relate to public services? Can foundation sectors such as health, social care and retail radically improve their productivity (and tradability), and is this desirable?

1.5 Finance

To what extent does the UK’s existing financial system support innovation and industrial development or impede them? Is the banking system (and its regulation) sufficiently oriented towards enabling supporting the enhancement of the UK’s productive capacity over the long term? How can capital markets be reoriented towards long-term investment?

  1. Future challenges and opportunities

2.1 Science and innovation

How can industrial strategy ensure that science and innovation are central to the whole supply chain from the science frontier to the shop floor? How should industrial strategy involve the broad range of institutions in the overall science and innovation ecosystem (including private and public sector actors, and basic and translational research institutions), and what support do they require? Which basic and translational research institutions have been successful, and why?

2.2 The new manufacturing economy

How will manufacturing evolve domestically and globally in the years and decades ahead? Can the UK establish a sustainable role in global production networks, in which supply chains and ownership are internationalised, and the lines between manufacturing and services are becoming increasingly blurred? What are the structural barriers to manufacturing renaissance?

2.3 Climate change and energy transitions

How can industrial strategy ensure the economy is robust to the pressures resulting from climate change (principally the need to decarbonise the economy)? What can government do to promote the development of new more sustainable (green) technologies, and make sure the UK economy extracts maximum value from them?

How can industrial strategy enable businesses to take advantage of new opportunities arising from green technology, and promote the adoption of green technologies throughout society?

2.4 Emerging technologies

What is the potential for creating entirely new industries (for example, in areas such as machine learning and AI, autonomous systems, quantum computing, nanotechnology and new materials, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine and biotechnology)?

What is the potential economic impact of these technologies, and on what timescale? What interventions will be most effective to realise their economic benefits? How can we guard against excessive neophilia and hype, while recognising which technologies have the potential to be genuinely transformative? How they might fit in with wider socio-technical systems, and to what degree might they be societally acceptable?

2.5 Infrastructure

What forms of hard and soft infrastructure should industrial strategy seek to support and develop?

  1. The role of the state

3.1 The role of government and its relationship to the private sector

How can we conceptualise the character of state interventions, which are extensive in some areas of the economy, yet highly circumscribed in others? What is the right form of intervention for the government in relation to industry -coordinator or prime mover?

How can the government utilise its production and consumption functions more strategically? How active should the state be in shaping corporate governance and determining M&A activity?

Is the state ‘locked in’ to certain forms of intervention by the formal and informal institutional apparatus through which the UK’s variant of capitalism is organised? What are the weaknesses of the current ‘market failure’ paradigm for intervention? What do governments get wrong?

3.2 The making and implementation of policies

How can the subservience of national and local industrial policy-making bodies within UK statecraft be overcome? How can a comprehensive industrial strategy be coordinated across national government, devolved administrations, local authorities and new devolved regional authorities, and government agencies such as UK Research and Innovation?

  1. Learning lessons

4.1 International comparisons

What can we learn from other countries that have successfully implemented industrial strategies? How translatable to the UK are industrial strategies that have succeeded elsewhere?

4.2 Past UK experiences and history

What can we learn from the history of industrial strategy and policy in the UK, from the industrial revolution until the present day?

How do prevailing discourses around industrial strategy (i.e. ‘picking winners’) shape policy outcomes? Is the UK’s political economy culturally biased against certain industries (e.g. manufacturing), and if so, how can this be transformed?