The CBI today produced a high level commentary on the areas for focus for the UK as the country continues to operate in the formative stages of the fourth industrial revolution.

Of particular note and resonating resoundingly against the backdrop of similar discussions emerging from last month's Festival of the Future Cities event in Bristol is the role that can be played by businesses and local authorities at regional level.

The CBI stressed the 'special strengths' that can be unlocked at regional level by greater devolution and tailored strategies.  It goes on to recommend the appointment of regional commissioners to oversee delivery - outside of existing political structures and emphasises the importance of local authority/business collaboration.  

There is some merit in these suggestions/recommendations - and perhaps a regional commissioner may help to provide some additional leadership in promoting and harnessing innovation across business/local government without political influences.  However core to the health of regional innovation is promoting greater collaboration to help identify new markets, new uses of data across sectors and the cross-fertilisation of ideas when it comes to the use of new and disruptive technologies emerging from Industry 4.0 (i.e the deployment of machine learning; AI; automation and merging of and analysis of big data pots).  

Greater collaboration within business and local authorities is also needed to help us at a regional and national level understand the socio-political impact of Industry 4.0 (i.e. job displacement; skills gaps; disenfranchisement of the extremities of society) so that these can be identified and managed carefully within the truncated timeframes that most commentators and analysts are predicting.