Tuesday evening saw the launch of techUK’s new initiative, SmarterUK. Chaired by Dan Byles (a former MP and founding Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smart Cities), SmarterUK aims to be the UK’s national champion for the development of world class smart infrastructure, focussing specifically on transport, energy/utilities, and smart cities.
The launch of SmarterUK was welcomed in Westminster. The Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Greg Clark, commented: ‘With powers being devolved from Whitehall, our cities and businesses are well placed to make the best use of smarter technologies that can help meet the changing needs of local people and cities. I welcome the launch of Smarter UK, which I hope will work with councils to make this country a world leader in smart cities. Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for the Culture and the Digital Economy had equally warm words: I welcome the new industry body, Smarter UK. It is always a sign of maturity, when a sector starts forming bodies to badger us!
SmarterUK is delighted to count one of the world’s pre-eminent tech law firms, Osborne Clarke, amongst its founding members. Osborne Clarke joins a list of other leading players in the smart infrastructure world to have joined the ranks of SmarterUK, including the likes of British Gas, EDF Energy, Hitachi, Living PlanIT, Accenture, and openergi.
Dan Byles, Chairman of SmarterUK commented: ‘To have a firm of Osborne Clarke’s calibre within membership is a real win for us in two key ways. Firstly, they’re proven thought leaders in the smart city space. Secondly, whilst the smart infrastructure opportunity is great, substantial policy & regulatory challenges remain. Having the forensic analysis and insight of some of the City’s smartest legal minds on our side is, therefore, a major plus. We’re delighted to have them on board.’
SmarterUK has been launched to bring together the tech industry with partners from across the transport, energy/utilities and built environment spaces. By doing this it hopes to help government and industry overcome the challenges associated with smart infrastructure development whilst also helping the UK capitalise on the significant economic opportunity it presents.
In his opening remarks at the launch, Dan Byles emphasised three key reasons why smart infrastructure is in the ascendancy, and why now is the perfect time for SmarterUK. Firstly, he mentioned the Chancellor’s recent announcement of the National Infrastructure Commission – a new body to be led by Lord Adonis to help improve decision making and long term planning with regards to major infrastructure projects in the UK. Secondly, he mentioned the importance of the Northern Powerhouse’s role in this government’s vision for the UK. Finally, he referred to how the government’s devolution agenda could potentially be a complementary driver for new infrastructure development – particularly with regards to issues like smart cities, public transport, and community energy.
It’s for reasons such as these, and many others, that now represents a major opportunity for SmarterUK. By bringing together companies and actors from across the tech, energy, transport and city worlds, SmarterUK will help drive the development of smart infrastructure and promote the opportunities it presents the UK and UK Plc. You can read more about how SmarterUK will do this by visiting its website here.