Advisors appointed for UK government’s ‘new Silicon Valley’ plan

The government is continuing with plans to create the next Silicon Valley in the UK after appointing five experts as advisors. 

Advisors will be covering the five ‘high potential sectors’ identified by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt MP and Business Secretary Grant Shapps MP as part of the plan. These sectors are: digital technology, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, creative industries, and green industries. 

First identified as a goal during the chancellor’s autumn statement in November, the idea of creating the ‘world’s next Silicon Valley’ was met with some scepticism by members of the industry. At the time, Mr Hunt identified the plan as one of his three priorities for growth, he said: ‘I want to combine our technology and science brilliance with our formidable financial services.’ 

Mr Hunt also said in the statement that he had asked the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, to lead work into figuring out how to change regulation to support the safe introduction of new and emerging technologies. 

The five appointed advisors will work alongside Sir Vallance to ‘supercharge growth’ according to Mr Shapps. Sir John Bell, a member of the board of directors at Genomic England, and Camilla Fleetcroft of research organisation Eclevar UK will oversee the life sciences sector. 

Emerging tech, such as Artificial Intelligence, will also be covered by two advisors with Matt Clifford of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency and Priya Lakhani OBE of the AI Council taking on the advisory roles for the sector. 

Additionally, Jane Toogood, the Chief Executive of catalyst technologies for Johnson Matthey, will oversee green industries. 

Mr Shapps said: ‘Economic growth and raising productivity is critical if we are to improve the standards of living for all Brits. One of the most sure-fire ways to deliver both is betting big on innovation, which is exactly what we intend to do.’ 

A change of languages from one new silicon valley to multiple reflects a recent report by the Centre for Cities which called for the government to do more to fund tech innovation outside of South East England.

Photo: Richard Townshend/ Official Portrait of Grant Shapps MP/ (CC BY 3.0)


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