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Chancellor appoints advisors to create multiple UK ‘Silicon Valleys’

Chancellor UK Silicon Valleys
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The government has appointed five industry experts to lead the chancellor’s plan to turn the UK into the “world’s next Silicon Valley”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Business Secretary Grant Shapps have identified five “high potential sectors” to target for growth. They are digital technology, green industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and the creative industries.

It is the first concrete step the government has taken towards its Silicon Valley goal since Hunt made the comments in the Autumn Statement. One notable difference since then is the change in government language from the “next Silicon Valley” to multiple “Silicon Valleys” in a potential nod towards a regional tech hub approach. UKTN has contacted the Department for Business for clarification.

The project is being led by the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. Vallance, along with the five experts, will look at how post-Brexit rule changes can encourage UK innovation and the commercialisation of new tech.

“We have already set out how we will back our formidable financial services sector to unlock private investment in new industries, and we will show the same ambition in other high-growth sectors to ensure that future Silicon Valleys are based here in the UK,” said Hunt.

Appointed to oversee efforts in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector are Matt Clifford, chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, and AI Council member Priya Lakhani OBE.

The life science brief will be taken by Sir John Bell, who sits on the board of directors at Genomics England, and Camilla Fleetcroft from Eclevar UK.

Jane Toogood, chief executive of catalyst technologies at Johnson Matthey, will manage green industries, which include hydrogen and battery development.

“Backed by this fierce new team of advisers, Sir Patrick Vallance will lead the charge alongside industry to supercharge growth in some of the world’s most exciting growing technologies, turning the UK’s natural strengths into pillars for long-term growth,” said Shapps.

The appointment of tech industry experts to government advisory roles draws similarities with the appointment of Mark Logan, previously the COO at Skyscanner, as Scotland’s inaugural chief entrepreneur officer earlier this year.

Nadeem Gabbani, founder of Exobotics, said: “The UK’s ambition of becoming the next Silicon Valley is exciting for businesses operating in the science and technology sectors and it gives us the confidence to keep pushing the boundaries of our products and services.”