MPs and policymakers will be urged at a dinner at the Houses of Parliament to re-focus efforts to boost the UK’s manufacturing and technology sectors after a lengthy period of uncertainty caused by the prolonged discussions over Brexit.
The jointly organised Bessemer Society and Foundation for Science & Technology dinner aims to seed thoughts among parliamentarians and policymakers about how they can support and sustain innovation companies involved in developing the enabling technologies for future product applications. Chaired by the politician, life peer and academic Lord David Willetts, the event will bring together speakers from a range of ‘hard-tech’ companies, all of whom are actively bringing new products to market.
Alex Stewart, the founder of the Bessemer Society, the forum and mutual society which brings together entrepreneurs committed to creating new companies based on technological innovation, said the dinner would act as a timely reminder of the importance of manufacturing and technology in the post-Brexit era.
“With Brexit taking up much of our politicians’ time and effort, now is an excellent time to remind them that the UK is still the eighth largest manufacturing economy in the world and a hotbed of innovation and creativity. Vital to its competitiveness are the companies which develop the critical enabling technologies in areas like semiconductors, biosciences, materials and engineering, which we call ‘hard tech’.
“The problem is they face much greater difficulties than their digital and service innovation counterparts, because the time-to-market for CAPEX-related companies is much longer, and the risks for investors therefore higher. The question is, what can be done by the government to encourage more long-term investment in the sector? These are the sorts of issues that will be debated at the Houses of Parliament event.”
The dinner, which takes place on 27 February and is by private invitation, includes speakers such as Dr Drew Nelson, chief executive of semiconductor supplier IQE; Dr Gordon Sanghera, chief executive of biomedical sequencing technology provider Oxford Nanopore; and Isobel Sheldon, director of business development at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre.