Tony Blair and business leaders set out plan to tackle UK’s productivity problem

Tony Blair

Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire. Unique Reference No. 60208834

The former prime minister Tony Blair and a collection of business leaders have set out a plan which they claim will tackle stagnating productivity in the UK and help the country become world-leading in science.

The report, which brings together entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, historians and policy wonks argues that we need to:

• Champion innovation by resurrecting Victorian-style Great Exhibition
• Overhaul science funding to slash bureaucracy,
• Build a new world-leading centre for research in the fast-developing fields of genomics, proteomics, and epigenomics.
• Recruit the most promising young scientific talent from across the world with generous scholarships.
• Turn Britain into a nation of early adopters by pushing regulators to pro-actively remove barriers to new emerging technologies such as drones, lab-grown meat, and gene-editing.

The collection, which was a joint project from The Entrepreneurs Network and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), is endorsed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Blair says: “The 21st century technology revolution is transformative, extraordinary in its consequences and impact and will and should dominate our thinking in the years to come.

“No one doubts technology can also have negative effects. But the critical point is that for good or ill, it is changing the world. This is the real world event that is happening in our time, to our people and the world over. The challenge for politics is to understand it, master it, and harness it for good.

He adds: “Yet too often policymakers either ignore its importance or focus on questions like those to do with privacy which are important but limited; when the real debate should be around how we use technology to usher in a new advance of humankind.”

The essays are also endorsed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Patrick Collison, co-founder of payments giant Stripe who says: “The industrial and scientific revolutions that blossomed in the UK were the product of a deliberate ambition, an emphasis on technical and scientific understanding, a willingness to contemplate the unusual, an appreciation for experimentation in institutions and incentives, a dissatisfaction with the status quo, and internalisation of the basic truth that improvements to our material state are both possible and urgent.

He adds: “These attitudes, which are not the default cultural orientation in any society, helped initiate a durable, multi-century trajectory that propelled standards of living to heights previously unimagined. All evidence suggests that this is also the mindset that will help us discover the best ways to improve the society that we live in today.”

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