Capturing the Cloud: Technology-Driven Growth and Innovation in the UK

Publication Details

On Thursday 7 July ResPublica launched a new report, Capturing the Cloud: Technology-Driven Growth and Innovation in the UK. The report was welcomed by senior industry professionals and policy makers at a stakeholder consultation event, who contributed views on the current challenges and opportunities in order to achieve a critical analysis of key issues. This marks the initial phase of a longer-term ResPublica commission on growth and innovation in Britain.

The paper, written by ResPublica Fellow Tim Cowen, examines cloud computing and its significance to the technology sector as better, faster and cheaper than existing alternatives, opening up new opportunities for boosting growth. It urges Government to take the lead in using new technology to stimulate growth and innovation and to ensure that fast internet infrastructure is built and restrictions are removed so that cities and communities can access capital. It puts forward the following 5 proposals:

  • The government could boost innovation and save money through intelligent purchasing of new technology. The government lead by example through buying new technology such as cloud computing on open, standards-based competitive terms. An EU level playing field is important and the government should not be biased in its purchasing. The government should support intellectual property and buy in the basis of international standards.
  • ‘Innovation’ should become the centrepiece and central goal of regulatory policy for the digital economy. We make a proposal for change to the economic model of communications regulation proposing the adoption of an ‘innovation model’. Other laws should be reviewed for their ability to support innovation and competition.
  • Innovation and rebalancing of the economy depends on the speed of the internet. The weakest link restricts end-to-end speed and the UK is in danger of slipping behind in both broadband and fiber deployments. Communications and computer technologies are, like a giant circuit board, interdependent. While the private sector should make the running in building high speed fiber networks, there is a wider public interest in ensuring that it happens. We propose greater government leadership to ensure that broadband and fiber upgrades become a reality.
  • Innovation hubs can bring together all players and cross industry expertise on commercialisation. These can be used to increase engagement with local communities and increase the pace of innovation. Major industry participants that make up the global supply chains and digital ecosystems can be convened and sponsored by government to the benefit of society more generally. Tech City is only part of the answer and we propose that government should use its power to convene and promote innovation more broadly.
  • Innovation in infrastructure needs capital. Local communities and cities should be able to access international capital markets to build high speed networks.

Innovation can be taken to the next level without undermining the approach taken to date, and much can be achieved without a change of direction. The paper reviews the available economic evidence, the approaches being taken by other governments worldwide and, learning from those initiatives, it suggests alternative and additional proposals in line with the government’s established approach.

  • Tim Cowen

    Equity Partner at Preiskel & Co

    Tim Cowen is an equity partner at Preiskel & Co and is independently recognised as one of the leading telecoms and technology regulatory/competition lawyers in the EU.  Tim led BT’s competition law and public policy team for many years and...

    Tim Cowen