The long-awaited government announcement of its White Paper on Raising has finally given the country more clarity as to what “alignment” is, why it is important, how the government intends to address it and what success markers will be in assessing the effectiveness of this nationwide policy.
Perhaps there is a temptation to be hostile when considering raising the level. Undoubtedly, this is a big problem, perhaps even bigger when viewed along with the consequences and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What examples from history can we show when such great changes began? The White Paper contains references to Renaissance Florence and the Medici leaders’ approach to investment, culture, banking and civic honor. The latest comparison with another European neighbor – raising the level – is a problem seen and compared to communities and divisions in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the investment needed for reunification.
The UK needs to pave its own path and not turn to history, but rather adopt the technologies of the future and how they can contribute to the upgrading process.
The White Paper included welcome news reaffirming Gigabit’s commitment, investing in skills training to shift research funding beyond London and the South East, stepping up support for innovation through three new innovation accelerators, adding regional investment through the British Business Bank and improving use data and metrics to track success.
Tracking success is paramount. There should be a better understanding of local business, technological and social conditions, and regional benefits and nuances. It helps direct support, expand what works, and improve collaboration.
However, this will require serious efforts, apart from the time of one prime minister and beyond the scope of the political plans of most governments in parliament. This means that he needs an inter-party consensus to have a chance to be taken seriously, to remain relevant and, perhaps most importantly, to be funded to bring about the change the country needs.
Whatever the policy, every aspect of upgrading is and should be based on technology.
The Local Digital Capital Index (LDC Index) TechUK has outlined building blocks that enable the development of strong local technology ecosystems, including digital infrastructure, digital adoption, digital skills, research and innovation, finance and investment and trade support, and the data ecosystem. The White Paper on Equalization addresses the “six capitals” that fit the LDC TechUK index, as well as our calls to ensure that technology is at the heart of our economy and the opportunities available to everyone in the UK.
Take, for example, one region of the United Kingdom. The LDC index from TechUK noted that the West Midlands was the second in the UK in digital infrastructure – a huge selling point for the region. In turn, the White Paper Leveling Up supported WM5G with an investment of £ 25 million as the region has the best 5G coverage in the UK. The announcements in the White Paper for the West Midlands on finance and investment, transformation into an accelerator of innovation and a new partnership to become a “smart city region” add an opportunity to raise the level offered by the region.
However, all countries and regions need targeted investment plans in digital capacity to help their applications for funding, routes to domestic investment, development of their own technological ecosystems and focus on future activities and programs. At TechUK, we want to work with local leaders and the government’s upgrading team to use our index to target and seize opportunities for success where we know they can have the greatest impact. You can consult our LDC Index to learn about your region’s strengths and challenges here.
Now there is hard work. Companies that use digital technologies, in turn, increase the number of talented people with advanced skills, are encouraged to grow, stay and establish themselves in the region, rather than looking elsewhere. If this happens across the UK, we will know we are moving towards higher levels.