David Cameron has revealed the government’s strategy to boost the emerging “information economy”.
The Prime Minister has introduced the Information Economy Strategy at the G8 Innovation Conference in London today, designed to make it easier for businesses to access public services online and help small and medium sized businesses grow their online presence and exploit new technologies.
The strategy includes a commitment to transform 25 of the top 50 public services to digital over the next year, including plans to give businesses a single online view of their tax records.
It also promises to provide a programme to get 1.6 million SMEs online over the next five years, targeting SMEs that are either not online or want to improve their current online facilities for tasks such as processing electronic payments or selling goods overseas.
And the government hopes to steal a march in the global race to develop state-of-the art 5G mobile technology by establishing the world’s first facility, working with industry and the University of Surrey.
Speaking at the conference Cameron said: “More than any time in history our world is being shaped by innovation, new ideas, new technologies and new companies. This is the story of the global economy.
“Countries around the world have got to get this. Jobs and growth depend on it. We’ve all got to open up our economies to innovation, we’ve got to nurture new ideas, we’ve got to bend over backwards to attract the best and the brightest. A global race is underway and it is waiting for absolutely no one.”
The strategy also includes plans to publishing a data capability strategy in October, developed in partnership with government, industry and academia, to build on the recommendations in Stephan Shakespeare’s review of Public Sector Information and the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology’s report on algorithms.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “In order to achieve strong and lasting growth, we need to back our most innovative businesses.
“There are growing clusters up and down the country, with areas like Bristol, Manchester and Cambridge excelling in advanced information technology. By developing the information economy we will provide the skills, digital services and new technologies to grow the UK economy and create jobs outside of London.”
The strategy will also bring together academia and business to develop a digital skills strategy in a sector which employs over 1.5 million people in the UK. This will include the promotion of innovative teaching tools in schools, encouraging more young people to pursue jobs in the information economy, and creating a programme of Massive Online Open Courses for computing and data science.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “It is excellent that we are launching the information economy strategy to support our most innovative companies. This sector is rapidly growing and making a real difference to our day to day lives. By giving businesses the tools they need to develop new technologies we will provide new growth and job opportunities across the UK.”
As part of the partnership with industry and academia, the government has set up the Information Economy Council. The council will set the agenda for future progress of the strategy and monitor its progress.
Cameron also announced a £1m fund to kick start development of an innovative solution to one of the major global problems of our time.
Rhian Kelly, CBI Director for Business Environment, said: “The Information Economy is vital to UK growth and the way we do business.
“Technologies like cloud computing and 5G help keep all businesses a step ahead in the global race, so it is right to get behind our hi-tech firms as part of a coherent industrial strategy for the UK.
“Success will depend upon the UK developing world-leading digital infrastructure and government departments working together to drive the strategy forward.”