Industrial policy initiatives to strengthen competitiveness
The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany have all tried to solve current and future challenges of global competitiveness, innovation, skills-supply, and job creation by a combination of general and specific measures. Development and support of production processes, as well as services, count as central components of their policy mix.
The different strategies have a broad focus on strengthening innovation capacity and production skills in knowledge intensive companies and organizations that meet an increasingly tough global competition.
Selective and General Initiatives Combined
The United Kingdom chose, after careful studies of its own industry, to promote sectors and technologies which are either important for the country today or has a large growth potential whilst at the same time might benefit from governmental partnerships and support. An example of how the UK has worked is the Digital Catapult Centre, where different R&D programs have been launched but the government has also been involved in solving challenges with intellectual property and big data, all of which aims to create a beneficial development within this particular area. In the Netherlands, nine cross-industry sectors were selected to become what is called Top Sectors. Through different types of support to these sectors the government aimed to strengthen the Dutch companies’ global competitiveness. The role of the state within these Top Sectors has developed from being subsidising to creating networks. In Germany, the goal is to become leading in science and technology-based solutions within a number of selected sectors. To achieve this, the strategy is meant to bring different innovative actors together from the private, academic, and governmental sectors, through national, regional, and local initiatives.
The selective activities, such as R&D programs are, in all three countries, combined with general initiatives such as deregulation, tax incentives, and financial measures for SMF.
Collaboration Between Central Actors
A central part in all three countries’ strategies has been to create collaboration, partly between the industry and the academy, but also between the public and the private sector. In all three cases the ministers from all parts of the government and a number of different governmental agencies have been engaged in the strategies. An example of this is that in the Netherlands, every Top Sector has had working groups with representatives from industry, academy and different public bodies in order to create a strong and efficient collaboration. Evaluations show that the Dutch strategy has led to precisely this, a stronger coordination between the different actors.
Growth Analysis has been commissioned to look at how the strategies were communicated. The United Kingdom for example, did not have a designated budget for communications, instead focus was to create a dialog with stakeholders, producing easily accessible material and using social media in order to create a discussion around, and an interest for, the strategy.