Theme: Public Policy | Content Type: Journal article

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Demanding the Impossible: Public Procurement as Industrial Strategy

Steve Coulter and Ben Meggitt


Jonathan Thacker

| 1 min read

Governments have rediscovered industrial strategy as a central tool of economic policy in order to deal with a range of challenges, including ending the stagnation in productivity, transforming economies to meet net zero targets and coping with disruptive new technologies. An important emerging feature of this is a shift in emphasis from ‘supply-side’ policies, focussing on tackling market failures, to ‘demand-side’ policies, which aim to help entrepreneurs overcome uncertainty by providing a final market for their products. For UK policy makers, this shift represents opportunities to support nascent technology industries, but it also holds dangers of waste, overreach and political capture. The article assesses several possible approaches available to the UK and concludes that a viable strategy for the UK is not to try to compete with big spending schemes, like the USA's Inflation Reduction Act, but to work with entrepreneurs in de-risking new product development.

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  • Steve Coulter

    Steve Coulter

    Steve Coulter was Head of Industrial Strategy and Skills at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, and a Visiting Fellow at the LSE. He is now Head of Economy at Green Alliance.

    Articles by Steve Coulter
  • Ben Meggitt

    Ben Meggitt

    Ben Meggitt was a Senior Policy Advisor in the UK Civil Service, and is now a trainee solicitor.

    Articles by Ben Meggitt