Policy Scotland was delighted to host this online round table discussion with Lord Sainsbury to discuss industrial policy issues highlighted in his book Windows of Opportunity: How Nations Create Wealth.
David Sainsbury is one of the UK’s most prominent businessmen, philanthropists and a major contributor to science and innovation policy. Currently Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, he was UK Minister of Science and Technology from 1998-2006 and he has maintained a very active interest in innovation and the challenge of raising productivity
The event, chaired by Policy Scotland’s Deputy Director Des McNulty, considered a vision for industrial policy, which is all the more urgent in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic context.
The event was introduced by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
In his book, Windows of Opportunity: How Nations Create Wealth, Lord Sainsbury draws on his experience in business and government to assemble the evidence about how growth happens, arguing that it comes not as steady progress but in a series of jumps, based on investment in high value-added firms. He argues that the role of government in ‘picking winners’ should be at the level of technologies and industries rather than individual firms.
Lord Sainsbury outlined a set of questions for policymakers, business and academics to focus on in order to move forward successfully in the post pandemic, post-Brexit circumstances.
The attendees, representing the public sector, private sector and academia, focused the discussison around the concluding questions from a dissussion paper by Lord sainsbury.
- Is the central argument right, and can the slow rate of growth of the G7 countries be largely attributed to a loss of competitive advantage in world markets?
- Is it correct that the only way to increase the UK rate of growth long term is by increasing the production efficiency and competitive advantage of UK firms by innovation?
- Is it correct to say that we will only be able to level up the UK’s regional economies by creating more high value-added per capita firms in the poorer regions?
- Is it correct to think in terms of a ladder of economic development in the world economy, and that the G7 countries can only escape a zero-sum confrontation with the developing world by rapidly innovating and creating new higher value-added per capita goods and services, while ceding lower value-added per capita services to developing countries?