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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

20 January 2017 – This discussion paper has been commissioned by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group to inform the development of an industrial strategy fit for the 21st century.

UK Indudtrial StrategyDownload the discussion paper

About the discussion paper

Published ahead of a major consultation to define the UK’s new industrial strategy, this paper argues that the UK can have a bright future if government and business work together to ensure the country can participate in the industries of tomorrow.

It sets out three major challenges facing the country – boosting sluggish economic growth and stagnating productivity; promoting greater regional development; and moving toward a more sustainable economy with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to tackle these challenges, the briefing identifies four trends that the government’s industrial strategy should respond to:

  • growing demand for different types of industrial products, partly as a result of digitalisation
  • the move to a sharing economy where services are sold in lieu of physical objects
  • changes in the way industrial products are produced, including as a result of increased reuse and recycling
  • changes to the nature and availability of key inputs, including energy.

The UK’s industrial strategy must be cognisant of, and consistent with, these trends, to meet its overarching objectives. The UK has committed itself to dramatic improvements in the sustainability of its economy. Under the Climate Change Act there is a commitment for UK industry to become zero carbon by 2050. A new industrial strategy must therefore work to create jobs, improve productivity, boost innovation and create regional growth across the UK, at the same time as working to make industry low carbon and sustainable.

Citing this briefing

Please refer to this report as University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2017, January). UK Industrial Strategy: Navigating a changing world. Cambridge, UK: The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.


Copyright © 2016 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Some rights reserved.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CLG, CISL, the wider University of Cambridge, or clients.

Authors and acknowledgements

This business briefing was authored by Timothy Laing with editorial input from Eliot Whittington, Jill Duggan and Joanna Gaches, as well as comments from Corporate Leaders Group members.


Published: January 2017