Dear Members and Friends,
A highlight of this past week was welcoming Greg Clark, the BEIS Secretary of State, to Grafton Street to discuss UK industrial strategy, just days after his department's green paper on this subject was issued. Senior executives from a wide range of UK, Indian, US and Japanese companies and partnerships from a number of sectors, as well as LEP representatives, contributed their thoughts. It was an impressive performance by a minister with a clear commitment to empowering the regions, addressing the technical skills gap and fully supporting the exceptional science and research base the country enjoys. Greg is photographed here next to the Tata UK's senior director David Landsman. Tata are the largest private sector employer in the UK.
In a week fuller than usual of events around the challenges and opportunities facing government we also enjoyed a discussion and Q& A session with Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State at the Department of Health and listening to Peter Lilley MP's assessment of the way forward on Brexit. Jon Thompson, a regular visitor when Permanent Secretary at MoD and now CEO of HMRC sadly had to postpone and we look forward to welcoming him on 12 April.
BEI hosted the Private Infrastructure Development Group, which champions private investment in the infrastructure of frontier markets of sub-Saharan Africa. A very engaged audience of 40+ discussed these markets, reflecting a growing focus on Africa by Strategy across a spectrum of private sector investment through to government - funded activity.
We welcomed first visits to the events programme by new members Sheffield City Region, FTI Consulting, Imperial Brands and ICF.
We end the week wishing our Inspire colleagues a successful trip to Arab Health. I will be joining them at this major annual global event in Dubai with 120,000 visitors, where the Inspire publication 'Global Opportunity - Healthcare 2017' will be the lead sector trade promotion publication on the prominent Healthcare UK stand.
Back at home this coming week we look forward to hearing Andy Burnham set out his plans as Labour's candidate for the first Greater Manchester mayoral election and, for our defence sector members, we welcome the new MoD regulator, the Single Source Regulations Office.
Last but not least we await the outcome of the PM's trip to Washington. Will it herald, beyond the likely positive tone, a meaningful shift in the growth of US/UK trade and investment, not least prompted by material growth in US infrastructure and defence spend, sectors where BEI and D Group, respectively both have strong connections at Federal and State level; not to mention the long-term involvement in the membership of a large number of leading US corporations and professional firms.
Tracey Smith - Deputy Chair, Strategy International