Government policy paper recommends industry and the NHS work closer together

The government has published a policy paper to encourage the development of new technologies in areas of strategic importance to the UK.

The White Paper, ‘Industrial Strategy: building a Britain for the future’, outlines recommendations for a ‘sector deal’ for industry and the NHS to work more closely together, with Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) expected to play a key role.

Sector deals are partnerships between the government and industry on sector-specific issues which aim to enhance the UK’s business environment. The government and the life sciences sector agreed the first sector deal in December 2017. AHSNs will continue to provide national and local support for innovation, through the implementation of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR).

The current industrial strategy has been under development since 2016. Activity was accelerated with the establishment of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), leading to the launch of a Green Paper in January 2017 to stimulate discussion and consultation. Following this, the 256-page White Paper was issued in November 2017.

The White Paper sets out the government’s long-term plan to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK.

Four grand challenges were identified in the White Paper, which are an invitation to business, academia and civil society to work together to innovate and develop new technologies and industries in areas of strategic importance to our country:

  • Ageing Society – harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society
  • AI and Data Economy – AI and data revolution
  • Clean Growth – global shift to clean growth (low-carbon future)
  • Future of Mobility – the way people, goods and services move (transport)

The NHS and AHSNs have a key role to play in the first two areas:

Ageing Society

The UK population is living longer than ever before with one in three children born in the UK today expected to live to 100 and by 2046 almost one in four people will be over 65 years old and over.

Innovation in age-related products and services can make a significant difference to UK productivity and individuals’ wellbeing, and will find a growing global market.

Priorities of this grand challenge include:

  • Ageing populations will create new demands for technologies, products and services, including new care technologies.
  • Need to support sectors to adapt to a changing and ageing workforce.
  • Support care providers to adapt their business models to changing demands, encouraging new models of care to develop and flourish.
  • Leverage the UK’s health data to improve health outcomes and UK leadership in life sciences.

AI and Data Economy

AI and machine learning technologies are already starting to transform the global economy and business models across many sectors as they deploy vast datasets to identify better ways of doing complex tasks.

Priorities of this grand challenge include:

  • Making the UK a global centre for AI and data-driven innovation.
  • Supporting sectors to boost their productivity through AI and data analytic technologies.
  • Leading the world in safe and ethical use of data and AI, giving confidence and clarity to citizens and businesses.
  • Helping people develop the skills needed for jobs of the future.

The government is now moving into an implementation phase, which includes creating an independent Industrial Strategy Council to assess progress and make recommendations to the government.

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