I met up with a colleague recently who works in the transport area and she recommended I take a look at a couple of articles including (for general context) the UK Innovation Strategy. The document detailing this (published in Nov 2017) can be found here, including:
“As well as setting a path to improved productivity, our Industrial Strategy sets out four areas (Grand Challenges) where Britain can lead the global technological revolution.”
It’s interesting to consider these big picture themes as it’s all to easy to get locked into details in specific projects.
The Four Grand Challenges are (plus some further explanatory extracts, see here):
1. Artificial intelligence and big data
They can be seen as new industries in their own right, but they are also transforming business models across many sectors as they deploy vast datasets to identify better ways of doing complex tasks – from helping doctors diagnose medical conditions more effectively to allowing people to communicate across the globe using instantaneous speech recognition and translation software.
2. Clean growth
The move to cleaner economic growth – through low carbon technologies and the efficient use of resources – is one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time. By one estimate, the UK’s clean economy could grow at four times the rate of GDP. Whole new industries will be created and existing industries transformed as we move towards a low carbon, more resource-efficient economy.
3. The future of mobility (people, goods, services)
The UK’s road and rail network could dramatically reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants, congestion could be reduced through higher-density use of road space enabled by automated vehicles, and mobility could be available when we want it, where we want it and how we want it.
4. Meeting the needs of an ageing society
The prospect of longer lives will require people to plan their careers and retirement differently. Ageing populations will create new demands for technologies, products and services, including new care technologies, new housing models and innovative savings products for retirement.
The first three you could see as predominantly technological challenges but the fourth is far more complex as it will need to take into account inter-generational attitudes and mindsets. A good example of a cross-disciplinary project.