Greener BeeGreen ElectronicsGovernment Green Paper seen as ‘tremendous opportunity’

“The Green Paper has fired the starting gun for the most extensive consultation with industry for decades,” said Tony King-Smith, ESCO’s recently appointed CEO. “Our industry has complained for far too long that it is under valued and unrecognised – this is an opportunity for us to come together as a unified and significant industry sector and take action to change that.”

ESCO says it will respond ‘comprehensively’ to the consultation on behalf of the electronics, electrical and embedded software and systems communities. Brian Holliday, ESCO’s chairman and managing director of Siemens Digital Factory in the UK, noted: “ESCO intends to positively embrace Industrial Strategy and harness the collective energy of all parts of our industry. Together, we can collaborate to build on our innovation and infrastructure base to help create new start-ups, engender new technology skills, to encourage new regional investments and to ensure rewarding technology jobs are created across the UK.”

Speaking exclusively to New Electronics, King-Smith said the electronics industry doesn’t get the recognition it deserves because it’s not that big in isolation. “I can see why people are frustrated by it all,” he said, “but electronics is specialist. The problem is that Government is largely full of generalists. Why don’t they listen? It’s because they don’t know what we’re talking about.”

An example offered by King-Smith was semiconductor process technology. “People are no longer impressed by 7nm silicon. What they are interested in is what’s being built with that silicon. And the things the electronics industry develops are coming into their own, with applications in smart grid, smart energy, smart cities and so on.”

But he also contends these applications aren’t just about electronics. “It’s also about electrotech; that brings in such things as power, cabling and motors.”

The consequence, he continued, is that we have to start ‘joining things up’. “We have to begin to wrap everything together so someone in the street can understand what’s going on. We have to be visible and that means what we talk about has to be related to the ‘real world’.”

ESCO, however, recognises that achieving that goal will require a serious effort. In a statement, it said that it will work closely with government and bring together the ‘many highly specialised segments of industry’ to deliver a cohesive industrial community with one strong, unified voice.

Asked whether this will require an industry coalition, King-Smith said: “Every sector has the same problem, because they don’t explain things in layman’s terms. We have to reinvent our sector, say ‘these are the elements’, but shrink wrap it.”

And he believes that now is the time to start work on this. “If you think about what’s going to happen over the next 10 years,” he said, “everything is going to be built using ‘electrotech’. All these applications will rely ‘on our stuff’ – the technology our industry is developing. We have to get that message across in general terms and focus on getting the attention of a wider audience. While we are making some progress, this will require us to come together. And that will mean the various sectors will need to put aside their differences in order to achieve what we’re talking about. One thing is certain,” he concluded, “we can’t be just another trade association.”

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