ESCO Council meets to review 2016 plans

Members of the ESCO Council held their first meeting of the year this week to review plans for the year and agreed to a number of priority actions including:

  • Review the Government’s policy paper ‘The Future of Productivity’ to identify where ESCO can help to address the productivity gap between the UK and its major competitors
  • Seek to agree an agenda with BIS and DECC for ESCO’s role in improving the UK’s energy efficiency and security
  • Promote the adoption in the UK of e-health solutions to improve fitness and well-being and to address the problems of dementia and diabetes
  • Coordinate industry support for the development of an Industry 4.0 living laboratory to enable UK companies to test the feasibility of fully automated design and manufacturing systems – a white paper on Industry 4.0 is currently in production and will be released soon
  • Promote the adoption of solutions to improve road safety and capacity, vehicle efficiency and automotive security
  • Position ESCO in a coordinating role to manage the development and approval of Trailblazer Apprenticeships and management of the new apprenticeship levy on behalf of the electrical and electronic systems community.

Further news on these workstreams will be announced as further progress is made.




We need your input on the proposed apprenticeship levy

The BIS Digital Apprenticeship Team is currently researching the apprenticeship levy to understand how employers would like to access their levy funds and pay it out to training providers.

As well as talking to many employers directly, they have also released a survey, aimed at all employers who will be affected by the levy.

The BIS Digital Apprenticeship Team needs as many responses as possible to help them design the service. Please respond to the survey and encourage as many colleagues and peers with an interest in apprenticeships as possible to participate. The deadline for completing the survey is Friday, the 5th of February.

To access the survey, please click here

If you would like to get involved in any other aspects of the research, please let BIS know by emailing


ESCO says don’t overlook the ‘things’ in IoT

ESCO has this week responded to Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey’s call for industry input into the UK Digital Strategy as follows:

Dear Minister,

First, I’d like to note what a positive step the Government has taken by creating the role of a Minister for the Digital Economy and second to applaud your publishing an open call to challenge you on the UK’s Digital Strategy.

Since you spoke at the launch of the ESCO Report, back in June 2013, ESCO ( has developed into the Industry Council representing the UK’s electronic and electrical sectors, working closely with the Government and officials and with a number of areas of interest which relate directly to the Digital Strategy.

I make some specific points below but if I had to sum up our message it would be that most of what we hear about digitisation or the Internet of Things, seems to concentrate on communications, apps and data; none of these have any meaning without the ‘Things’, the physical devices and interconnections; areas where the UK has considerable expertise and capability.

Under-pinning and key enabling technologies

Given the importance of electronic systems to all things digital, it is vital that the strategy includes the under-pinning technologies and, in particular, the opportunity to support partnership development between technology developers and technology users focused on exciting new ways to develop “Scale-up” companies.

I believe a UK Digital Strategy that’s going to have the biggest impact needs to include the fantastic opportunity for growth that electronic systems businesses provide. It needs to support the development of new technologies that will enable capabilities in sensing, conversion, processing and communicating data, machine learning and human-machine interface and of course the ever-increasing challenges of power reduction, cost reduction and miniaturisation that enable mass deployment.

This requires continued investment in R&D and support for measures that help enable the eco-system, for example intellectual property protection through patents – essential when trying to raise venture capital.

We mustn’t lose sight of the fact either that most of the activity is outside London – Sherry Coutu’s report identified 8,923 scale-ups with 75% of them being outside London.

Smart Energy

The use of digital technologies with electrical products and systems in buildings and electricity networks, is already delivering carbon emission reductions, and reductions in energy costs for the end customer.

The potential for the future is highly significant: the roll out of smart metering later this year will be the catalyst for a new energy technology revolution; the increasing use of digital products and systems will be at the heart of this opportunity.

The UK is in many areas in the lead on the plans for smart metering and smart grids, and has the flexible energy markets that can maximise development. UK manufacturing can benefit from the development of low carbon smart energy systems, retaining jobs, stimulating higher-value positions, and in some cases re- shoring manufacturing back into the UK.

Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet of Things

As well as the key enabling technologies and specific areas such as Smart Energy, there is the opportunity to transform UK manufacturing through digitisation – Industry 4.0, also known as the Industrial Internet of Things. In essence this means automation through linking all parts of the manufacturing supply and demand cycle via the Internet and exploiting the information made available to, for example, localise production and enable mass-customisation of products; you specify what you want and it is made locally for you.

The UK has an opportunity through Industry 4.0 to increase manufacturing productivity but co-ordination between government and industry is needed to give the confidence for manufacturers to invest. Research in this area shows that if the UK were to follow the German lead, it could be worth an additional £20 billion in manufacturing earnings with no nett loss in employment.

We are contributing to the productivity work being led by Phil Smith of CISCO and are actively engaged with enabling the creation of a full-scale Industry 4.0 demonstrator at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.

We need from Government:

 clear Industrial Policy;

 a benign investment environment;

 a stable policy environment over the long-term;

 engagement with all stakeholders from SMEs to multi-nationals; and

 engagement with pro-active industry bodies.


As well as the benefits of employment (over 1 million employed) and economic contribution (over £100 billion) within the UK our sectors export innovative products worldwide. The advance in Smart Technologies enabled by advanced electronics is the fuel for the future Digital engine and is readily exportable. Three specific challenges exist where Government can work to foster strong export in this area:

 Reducing the red tape around ‘low risk’ exports of technology products. This work is well underway but is still slow to come to fruition.

 Strengthening the UK internal market for technology products that have export potential, such as Medical Electronics.

 Support markets and companies that have a strong export potential by targeting international support for these exporters. This may well mean supporting mature companies and industry sectors that have a proven export potential rather than using a scatter-gun approach to find new export companies and markets.

As I said above, the Internet of Things and the whole digitisation agenda is nothing without the ‘Things’.

ESCO is keen to work with the Government to support the creation of new technologies and scale-up companies; further develop our expertise and ability in areas such as Smart Energy, promote the benefits of the industrial Internet of Things to UK manufacturing and of course to facilitate an increase in the export of our products to the rest of the world.

I would be pleased to provide further information relating to any of the points made above and invite you to call on ESCO as representative of a key UK design, manufacturing and technology sector.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Brooks CEO ESCO


UK Digital Strategy – the next frontier in our digital revolution

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey writes below on how Government is seeking ideas from public and industry on the UK’s digital strategy.

The closing date for responses direct to Government is 19th January. ESCO is responding on behalf of the sector and is seeking to engage with Government on the strategy on an ongoing basis. If you would like to get involved and submit your own thoughts to ESCO, please click here.

In 2010, a revolution began. Changes were afoot in east London as a cluster of tech start ups began a digital transformation. Tech City UK was born and in the last five years, the UK’s digital economy has changed beyond recognition – and in ways few people would have predicted.

Every part of the UK economy and our lives has been digitised – from how we shop and entertain ourselves to the way we travel to work and manage our health.

This digital fever exploded from the cluster in east London, and has spread to every part of the country, making the UK truly a ‘Tech Nation’ with more than 70 per cent of digital businesses now based outside of the capital. We’re home to thriving digital companies like SwiftKey, TransferWiseand onefinestay.

UK plc is one of the most developed digital economies in the world – it’s boosted by around £145 billion a year from digital technology, with the average British person spending around £1,500 online for goods each year.

This revolution has been led by entrepreneurs but supported by Government in creating the right environment for ideas and businesses to flourish. Tech City UK has done sterling work in supporting businesses who are embracing the technological revolution, and we’ve changed the way we operate in Government too, including by establishing the world-leadingGovernment Digital Service.

We’ve helped accelerate digital advancements, including opening up more than 20,000 government held data sources to the world, now used to underpin apps like CityMapper and Zoopla. And we’re making it easier for smaller businesses to bid for government contracts and sell services to the public sector via the Digital Marketplace we have created.

What next?

As some of you who follow me on Twitter know, I’m always shouting about success – be that another community we’ve connected to superfast broadband or new tech start-up we’ve supported. But we’re not complacent.

We’ve built a great base — but we need to work hard to make sure we continue to take advantage of the benefits digital transformation has to offer, as an economy and as a society. Other countries are hot on our heels but we want the UK to be synonymous with digital – a place where digital technologies transform day-to-day life, the economy and government.

The potential impact of this transformation is profound.

It might mean that the best educators from around the world are made accessible to all. That we can build better houses, faster. That more power is given to the patient, and the care we provide for our elderly and sick is improved and made more affordable. We can use technology to continue to build a new version of government – one which gives citizens the power to take control of the way they interact with the state. In fighting crime, we use data analytics to help predict crime more accurately.

Early next year, we’ll set out a new Digital Strategy for the UK, looking to the next five years. Working with colleagues across government it will set the agenda for the rest of the Parliament on digital, so that the UK continues to lead the way.

When people want to start a digital business, trial new ways of working or invest in cutting-edge technology, we want them to choose the UK. This is about nurturing the digital frontier, firmly planting our stake in the digital global market, and getting the world to buy into our success. This revolution is here to stay, and the UK as the ‘Tech Nation’ is the future we want to be building.

 The key ingredients for success

There are four key things we need to get this right:

1 – Unlocking digital growth

I want the UK to be the default place entrepreneurs want to start new digital business over any other tech hub in the world from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, scaling up to be global brands. From fintech to the sharing economy, we’ve already done much to make sure our regulations keep pace with technology, but simply updating regulations is not enough.

We need to take bold steps to create an open and flexible environment for digital innovation that crosses country borders. This means pushing for the completion of the Digital Single Market in Europe, which could create a €415 billion boost of economic growth for the region.

But this isn’t even just about the ‘tech’ sector. Every business can benefit from using digital technology – from hairdressers and corner shops to the big car makers, and everything in between. So how can we make sure we support businesses to make the most of this potential?

2 – Transforming government

The UK is already seen as a pioneer in digital government – when the US government created they copied our model. But government services need to be as good as the best consumer services. My colleague Matt Hancock is bringing renewed energy to this agenda, driving a transformation to create what he calls a ‘smartphone state’. Renewing your passport should be as easy as buying a book online, so what more can we do to make sure interacting with government is as simple and seamless as possible?

3 – Transforming day to day life

New technologies are changing every aspect of our lives. We need to make sure that wherever government is involved – as the service provider, regulator, or a major buyer – we are making the most of it.

In education, universities and colleges are already using massive open online courses – MOOCs as they’re called – so lectures and courses can reach a much wider audience, costing less. Could schools benefit from similar innovations?

In the NHS, it’s already moving from a largely paper-based system to a digital-by-default. What more can we do to make our health system more efficient and joined up, so that our amazing doctors and nurses can spend more time saving lives and improving care?

From driverless cars to deliveries by drone – the future imagined by far-fetched science fiction films from only a few years ago is rapidly coming true. How can we make sure the UK is at the cutting edge of these developments?

4 – Building the foundations

We need to get the fundamental areas right to make everything else possible.

On connectivity we’re on track to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017 – and we’re planning to make it a legal right for every home and business in the UK to request fast broadband. But fixed broadband is just part of the solution. We’re working to make Internet access ubiquitous, so everyone can access it whenever and wherever they need it.

As more of our lives are conducted online, the need to keep ourselves safe from criminals and terrorists increases. But we mustn’t let these real dangers prevent us from accessing all the benefits of a digital economy. That’s why we’re spending £1.9 billion over the next five years through the National Cyber Security Programme.

Given digital is in everything, digital skills are increasingly vital for everyone’s lives. It’s estimated around 90% of all jobs over the next 20 years will require some level of digital skills, so we need to make sure they’re at the heart of our education system, and that people can keep their skills updated throughout their lives.

Challenge us

Come 2020, undoubtedly the UK landscape will have changed to be firmly in the digital age. But how do you want to shape that? Government has ideas and ambitions but as Tech City UK back in 2010 shows, the ideas are out there. So challenge us – push us to do more. Let’s show the rest of the world how it’s done.

 Ed Vaizey

Digital Economy Minister

HMRC has launched a new scheme to help first time small company claimants of Research & Development (R&D) tax relief

Many companies already benefit from R&D tax credits and ESCO applauds this move by HMRC to support companies making their first R&D Tax Credits Claim. For further details and how you can take advantage, see below

“HMRC can look after your Research & Development claim freeing you to run your company

HMRC has launched a new scheme to help first time small company claimants of Research & Development (R&D) tax relief.
Advance Assurance links your company to HMRC specialists to help you understand and comply with the R&D tax relief conditions. HMRC will allow a claim without further enquiry for your first 3 accounting periods, so you can concentrate on running your company rather than focussing on your R&D claim. Advance Assurance also gives proof that your company will get R&D tax relief, which may help secure funding.
You can apply for Advance Assurance whether your company is planning to carry out R&D, or has already carried it out. However your company must not have claimed R&D tax relief before, its annual turnover must be £2 million or less and it must employ fewer than 50 people.
If your company is new and doesn’t have a turnover figure, it can still apply, as long as it hasn’t claimed R&D tax relief before.”

Visit the site to find out more

Sean Redmond joins the ESCO Council

photo sean redmond

ESCO is pleased to announce that Sean Redmond has been appointed as ESCO Council Vice Chairman.

Sean is CEO of Vertizan and has a proven track record of creating, driving and growing sustainable, profitable technology businesses. Vertizan has developed a revolutionary software test automation tool used in high integrity and automotive safety-critical software, IoT networks and is now entering the growing world of app testing.

Brian Holliday, ESCO Council Chairman and Managing Director – Digital Factory at Siemens plc, said: ‘I am delighted that Sean has agreed to join the Council bringing with him his experience of electronic systems and software design. With his Government engagement experience he will make a significant contribution to our work, building a successful UK electronics industry which enables so many areas of modern technology and commerce.

Sean Redmond noted: ‘I have worked with a number of ESCO Council members previously and I am very much looking forward to working with all of the ESCO team to create the platform for further growth in the UK electronic and electrical systems industry, especially among the SME community.’

Peter Brooks, ESCO CEO commented: ‘I am delighted that Sean has been able to join the ESCO Council and his wealth of experience will help us to ensure that we take account of the specific needs and concerns of the SME business community as we move ahead’.

Government’s three priorities for electronics industry

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Business and Innovation, told guests at ESCO’s Industry Dinner on Wednesday that the Government had three priorities when it came to the electronics industry. “We are supporting investment, promoting the fact that the UK has leading edge disruptive and emerging technologies and making the UK the best place in the world to invest and start a business.”

You can read more by clicking here

Employment and GDP contribution in electronic systems sector boom in last two years

It’s 10 years since the Electronics Innovation and Growth Team published its report on the future of the UK’s electronics sector, concluding the industry was fragmented, lacking in confidence and essentially invisible.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and the world is a much different place. We have seen the establishment of the Electronics Leadership Council and its demise, the establishment of the UK Electronics Alliance and, more recently, its replacement by the Electronics Systems Community, or ESCO.

ESCO was launched with a flourish two years ago, with a report – ‘A Blueprint for Economic Growth’ – based on extensive research into a number of areas. The report pointed out the value of electronics to the UK’s economy; not just in numbers, but also in terms of its pervasiveness.

To read more, click here here

To see Ian Phillip’s video presentation of the latest ESCO analysis, click here

To see the full analysis, go to ESCO Economic Calculations 14 vs 12 6 july 2015

ESCO says employment and GDP contribution is rising faster than expected

ESCO is making good progress with its seven year plan to boost the contribution of the electronics industry to the UK’s GDP.

According to figures produced by the organisation, the number of people employed within the electronic systems sector has exceeded 1million – 3.28% of the working population – while the contribution to GDP has risen to almost £100billion. In its clarion call report, published in 2013, ESCO targeted 1m people being employed in the sector and a GDP contribution of £120bn by 2020.

To read more, click here

To see Ian Phillip’s video presentation of the latest ESCO analysis, click here

To see the full analysis, go to ESCO Economic Calculations 14 vs 12 6 july 2015

UKESF announces the appointment of its first CEO

Stewart Edmondson has joined the UK Electronic Skills Foundation (UKESF) as its first CEO yesterday, Monday 22nd June.

Stewart replaces Wendy Daniell who is now retiring and who has been an important driving force in developing UKESF from inception to the successful, well-regarded programme it has become.

As the new CEO, Stewart’s role will be in expanding the scope and scale of UKESF to play a transformational role in the UK electronic systems industry’s skills landscape.

Stewart joins the UKESF with a well-grounded appreciation of engineering skills gained from an excellent technical background and senior management experience. He served 24 years as an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force, specialising in operational communications-electronics systems prior to assuming senior positions responsible for ICT policy and training, maintenance regulations and information management. Subsequently, he has worked at QinetiQ before undertaking executive roles in HR Services at Xchanging and then BAE Systems with a focus on early careers programmes.

For more informstion about the UKESF, please click here

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