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Britain at the forefront of new technologies


Industry 4.0 is clearly a revolution in the making, with wide-scale implications for businesses, consumers and workers. On the supply side, many industries are already seeing the introduction of new technologies, which are furthering new ways of serving requirements and disrupting long-standing industry value chains.

An independent review of industrial digitisation in 2017, called Made Smarter, revealed that Britain’s manufacturing sector could unlock hundreds of billions of pounds over the next ten years through IDT’s, create 175,000 highly skilled, better-paid jobs, and reduce CO2 emissions by 4.5%, potentially putting the nation at the forefront of new technologies.
With the Forth Industrial Revolution set to inject £455bn into the UK economy, Bidwells looks at the new technologies and locations leading the way.
The industry’s fastest growing, leading technologies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the UK include:

  • Robotic
  • Aerospace
  • Additive manufacturing (3-D printing)
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • AI and machine learning
  • Renewables
  • Power grids and wind farms

The manufacturing sector already employs around 71 robots per 10,000 employees, and robotics is seen by many experts as the most crucial aspect of future digital technology. The future may reveal a society where robots deliver shopping, serve in banks, report on news, or perform agricultural farming. Robotics is expected to become a $29bn industry this year, with the value of the collaborative robotics industry expected to grow to $1bn by 2020.

The UK Aerospace industry is the largest in Europe, second only to the US, and is pushing boundaries for the future of travel, even amid Brexit landscape shifts. Data shows the export-led industry grew £1.9bn in 2015 to £31.1bn in 2016, employs 120, 000 people, and indirectly supports a further 118, 000 jobs.

UK also holds the strongest AI and machine learning market in Europe, with over 200 SMEs in the field, compared to 81 in Germany and 50 in Nordic countries. The industry has the potential to bring £198.7bn to the UK economy by 2027. With a thriving ecosystem of researchers, developers and investors, the UK has a comparative advantage in developing AI technologies. According to Deloitte, 85% of businesses are expected to have invested in artificial intelligence by 2020.

The UK is investing significantly in key areas of clean energy infrastructure, such as solar parks and wind farms, smart grids, energy efficiency and battery storage projects. But, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, energy investments in 2018 are expected to slow, as they took a hit in 2017 – with investments falling 56% due to policy changes. Worldwide spending climbed 3% to £242.4bn, proving the possibility for sustainable energy to become a major IDT, not only globally, but also for Britain.

Cities Unlocking the Potential of Industry 4.0

From automated warehouses and robotic assembly, to self-driving cars and intelligent robots, these changes are all around us, but some regions are impacted more than others.

In 2017, industrial and commercial property in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes boomed despite Brexit fears. Industrial rents continued growing strongly across the Golden Triangle in the last six months of 2017 with Cambridgeshire leading the way by posting a growth of 13.6% in 2017.

Golden Triangle cities have been spotlighted as areas spurring tech growth and innovation, and this year the UK Powerhouse report by Irwin Mitchell found that Cambridge, Oxford, and Milton Keynes are the fastest growing cities in 2018 of all British cities.

Cambridge is the top city to lead economic growth, most notably recognised for its prestigious academic setting and Cambridge Cluster.

Cambridge’s tech hub has attracted more than £153m in digital tech investments and provided over 30 000 digital tech jobs to the UK market, making it a leading area for Industry 4.0 innovation and employment.
Bidwells’ research into the Biopharma hubs in Cambridge and Oxford also revealed 600 companies operating in these locations, which are set to be huge contributors to the future of medicine and technology, a key area for innovation for Industry 4.0. Companies ranged from multinationals to start ups, with a combined market cap of £5.7bn.

Milton Keynes has unexpectedly become a household name and one of the UK’s top smart cities. It’s fast become an example what a deep commitment to the innovations and installations of smart technology in a city looks like. Milton Keynes is a leading developer of Industry 4.0 technology, attracting investors as they recognise the region as one of the fastest growing tech hubs.

Head of Industrial and Logistics Team at Bidwells, Patrick Stanton, concludes: “Occupiers clearly see opportunities for cost savings – and automated technologies obviously means less manual labour – but there might also be a higher demand for more high-tech skills.

“However, they are seeing the possibilities of employing automated technology to enable them to store goods and products at a greater height than ever before.

“In the end, a sufficient supply of industrial space will be a key player in the success of manufacturing, assembling, delivering, and storing these IDT’s, not to mention the thousands more of employees which will be drawn to and employed by the fast-moving sector.”

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