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October 14, 2011

Join the dots - science and growth in the season of party conferences

Vince Cable's conference speech

But the big long term question is: how does the country earn a living in future? Natural resources? The oil money was squandered. Metal bashing? Mostly gone to Asia. Banking? Been there, done that. What is left? Actually quite a lot. People. Skilled and educated people. High tech manufacturing of which we already have a great deal. Creative industries, IT and science based industries and professional services. In my job I meet many outstanding, world class, British based companies. But we need more companies and more jobs in the companies we have.

It is my job as Business Secretary to support business growth. And this knowledge based economy requires more high quality people from FE, HE and vocational training. Here, we have a problem. Businesses cannot grow because of a shortage of trained workers while our schools churn out young people regarded by companies as virtually unemployable. The pool of unemployed graduates is growing while there is a chronic shortage of science graduates and especially engineers.


George Osborne's conference speech

Reforming finance.  Keeping interest rates low.  Getting credit to small business.  Helping fix the Eurozone crisis.

These are all essential for growth.

And that would be ambition enough for most governments.

But they are not enough for us.

We have to help business create tomorrow’s jobs.

My children are eight and ten years old.

I don’t want them to read about how China has just built the world’s most advanced aircraft; how India is leading the globe in computer design; and have to say to my children: that used to be Britain. 

I want Britain to be the home of the greatest scientists, the greatest engineers, the greatest businesses – a land of innovators. And we can be.

The sacrifices we make, that’s what they’re for.

The determination I show, that’s what drives me.

Tomorrow’s world is being shaped here in Manchester.

Manchester, the first City of the Industrial Revolution.

The city where the first computer was built.

Where Rutherford split the atom.

And the Miliband brothers split the Labour Party.

Manchester, home to the two brilliant scientists I met this morning who have just been awarded the Nobel Prize for physics.

Their prize was for the discovery of a substance called Graphene. 

It’s the strongest, thinnest, best conducting material known to science, to be used in everything from aircraft wings to microchips.

The inventors could have gone anywhere in the world to conduct their research.

But they chose the University of Manchester.

Now countries like Singapore, Korea and America are luring them with lucrative offers to move their research overseas.

But they want to stay here, in Britain.

They think it’s the best country in the world for them and their work.

We’ve already protected the science budget.

And today, I am confirming that on top of that we will fund a national research programme that will take this Nobel-prize winning discovery from the British laboratory to the British factory floor.

And we’re going to fund the frontier of high performance computing as well to give the best tools to our designers and engineers.

Let’s stop thinking that the only growth that can happen in Britain takes place in one industry in one corner of our country.

We’re going to get Britain making things again.

I’ve never believed the Government should just stand on the sidelines, that it has no role in fostering enterprise and creating jobs.

I will intervene when the market doesn’t work, and set it free when it does.


David Cameron's conference speech

But as we go for growth, the last thing I want is to pump the old economy back up, with a banking sector out of control, manufacturing squeezed, and prosperity confined to a few parts of the country and a select few industries. Our plan is to build something new and to build something better. We can do it.

Look what's happening in East London. Europe's financial capital is now matched by Europe's technology capital in Tech City. Facebook, Intel, Google, Cisco - even Silicon Valley Bank - seeing our potential and investing here. Look what's happening across our country. The wings of the world's biggest jumbo jet - built in Wales.

The world's most famous digger - the JCB - made in Staffordshire.

Do you watch Formula One? Well whether it's the German Michael Schumacher, the Australian Mark Webber or the Brazilian Reubens Barrichello, they all have one thing in common - they drive cars built right here in Britain.

This is the new economy we're building: leading in advanced manufacturing, technology, life sciences, green engineering. Inventing, creating, exporting.

Of course, it's easy to talk about these things: harder to deliver it. For a start, you won't deliver it just by dividing industries into saints and sinners.

That's not just an insult to the financial and insurance companies, accountancy firms and professional services that make us billions of pounds and create millions of jobs - it's much too simplistic.

As I've always argued, we need businesses to be more socially responsible. But to get proper growth, to rebalance our economy, we've got to put some important new pieces into place.


David Willetts on the Conservative fringe

Picture 1

Ed Miliband's conference speech

You've been told all growth is the same, all ways of doing business are the same.

But it's not.

You've been told that the choice in politics is whether parties are pro-business or anti-business.

But all parties must be pro-business today.

If it ever was, that's not the real choice any more.

Let me tell you what the 21st century choice is:

Are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers?

The producers or the predators?

Producers train, invest, invent, sell.

Things Britain does brilliantly.

Predators are just interested in the fast buck, taking what they can out of the business.

This isn't about one industry that's good and another that isn't.

Or one firm always destined to be a predator and another to be a producer.

It's about different ways of doing business, ways that the rules of our economy can favour or discourage.


Chuka Umanna's first article as shadow business secretary

Second, it acknowledges that transformative product innovation is vital for the success of the British economy. It is not enough to rely just on the response to immediate demand. We must learn from the approach in countries like Germany that have seen businesses thrive whilst their counterparts in Britain have lost out.


Harvard Business School professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer on "Creating Shared Value"

The concept of shared value—which focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress—has the power to unleash the next wave of global growth.

An increasing number of companies known for their hard-nosed approach to business—such as Google, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Unilever, and Wal-Mart—have begun to embark on important shared value initiatives. But our understanding of the potential of shared value is just beginning.

There are three key ways that companies can create shared value opportunities:

• By reconceiving products and markets

• By redefining productivity in the value chain

• By enabling local cluster development


Treasury's Growth Review

Phase two will focus on:

  • Infrastructure – considering how to eliminate barriers and encourage greater investment in UK infrastructure;
  • Education and skills – looking across the whole of the education system from schools, FE colleges, universities and other training providers to consider how to maximise economic growth;


My way of joining these dots will appear in Research Fortnight next Wednesday. Why not do it your way in the comments below?


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My 4-year-old has this book too.

If you join these dots you get a dinosaur.

Hi William. This book is fantastic and my kids love it. I bought half a dozen of this.

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