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The Next Production Revolution

Implications for Governments and Business

image of The Next Production Revolution

This publication examines the opportunities and challenges, for business and government, associated with technologies bringing about the “next production revolution”. These include a variety of digital technologies (e.g. the Internet of Things and advanced robotics), industrial biotechnology, 3D printing, new materials and nanotechnology. Some of these technologies are already used in production, while others will be available in the near future. All are developing rapidly. As these technologies transform the production and the distribution of goods and services, they will have far-reaching consequences for productivity, skills, income distribution, well-being and the environment. The more that governments and firms understand how production could develop in the near future, the better placed they will be to address the risks and reap the benefits.

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China and the next production revolution

The People’s Republic of China (hereafter “China”) is the largest contributor to global value-added in manufacturing. In recent years many Chinese companies have made great progress in creating and using new production technologies. For example, China is now the world’s largest user of industrial robots. These developments have been accompanied by a series of major policy initiatives and related public investments, an overarching aim of which is to advance the use of digital technologies in manufacturing. China’s goal of increasing the knowledge content of domestic production will expand the range of markets in which China competes. But upgrading manufacturing in China faces complex challenges. Technological capabilities remain highly uneven across the business sector. Challenges exist not only in increasing government investment in science and innovation, but also in commercialising research, improving infrastructures, making markets work more efficiently, and encouraging private sector innovation. Policy also needs to cope with a range of related developments, such as labour-market disruption, the growing importance of cyber security and the need for improved policy co-ordination.

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