Finding a successful industrial policy

6 March 2012

On the day that Nissan announced a £125 million investment in its Sunderland manufacturing plant, debate continues on what industrial policy Britain should adopt. The quest is on for a successful policy that encourages manufacturing and increases exports.

On 6 March, Mariana Mazzucato, Economics Director of the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (Innogen), and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable were interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

Professor Mazzucato re-iterated that a “coherent strategy” that supports innovation and productivity has been “lacking in the UK” for the last decade. She contrasted this to other countries, including China where a broad range of policies encourage key industries such as car manufacturing and energy-saving technologies. 

She also referred to lessons that Britain could learn from Silicon Valley where “courageous, bold government funding” helped many new industries when they were in their infancy.

The Business Secretary agreed that “government does have a role” in supporting industry but that it should not be “splashing around vast amounts of money”. He said that there was an over-reliance on banking in Britain and that the government needs to get behind successful industries like the automotive, aerospace and creative industries.

You can listen to the debate on the BBC iPlayer. It commences at approximately two hours and nine minutes into the programme:

In July 2011, Professor Mazzucato launched a pamphlet on UK growth policy called The Entrepreneurial State. 

The pamphlet makes the case for a reassessment of the role of government in UK growth policy and argues that the government needs to take more risks if Britain is to raise its growth rates and exploit new opportunities.

Further information 

Innogen is the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics. It was formed in October 2002 and is part of the ESRC Genomics Network.

•    Innogen grant and output details 
•    Innogen website (external website)