Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Sajid Javid talks about his plan to lead the fourth industrial revolution through UK innovation.

Britain has a long and proud history as a hotbed of innovation.

We led the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago when scientific leaps and technological innovations brought enormous economic benefits and dramatic improvements to living standards.

Today, we are living at a time of rapid technological change with innovations in fields such as big data, robotics, drones and synthetic biology holding the potential to revolutionise the way we work and live our lives – bringing big opportunities for businesses to tap into these lucrative new markets.

We have the talent, skills and potential to be a similarly dominant force in what is being called ‘the fourth industrial revolution’.

Innovation nation

As Business Secretary, I want to make the UK a beacon of new ideas and innovation.

In the coming months I will launch a new innovation plan, bringing together the whole of government to support and drive forward innovation.

The new plan will be for all levels of business, from SMEs like London’s Buffalo Grid, who created solar-power mobile chargers for people in rural communities, to our biggest innovators like pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline.

It will also help ensure that the money invested by all departments on all forms of innovation is spent in an effective, joined-up manner and focus Whitehall minds on the need for innovation within government, including whilst using our annual £250 billion spend on procurement.

Challenger businesses

I also want to make the UK the world leader in disruptive and emerging technologies, from graphene to driverless cars.

Tomorrow I will officially mark the opening of the new UK HQ of Airbnb, which is challenging historic ways of booking accommodation and giving consumers more choice. Last year, government officially recognised the benefits of the sharing economy by accepting the majority of recommendations to make the UK a global leader in this emerging sector.

We’ve taken action to specifically help more people benefit from the home sharing revolution, reforming legislation on short-term letting to allow residents in London to rent out their property for up to 90 nights a year without planning permission.

The opportunities for businesses and for entrepreneurs are huge – indeed already Airbnb is valued at over $25 billion. But ultimately the benefits are for consumers.

When we publish this new innovation plan, the UK will have a clear framework setting out our approach to ensuring we are leading this fourth industrial revolution, just as much as we did the first.

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