2020: The supply chain's digital frontier

DiT Webcast 01

2020: The supply chain’s digital frontier

Advanced digital technologies are playing a critical role in allowing businesses to respond to supply chain disruption.

We meet international experts as well as leading businesses to discuss how innovative UK companies are adopting new technologies to support their global partners.


Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Kt

Minister for Investment, DIT
Lord Grimstone was appointed Minister for Investment jointly at the Department for  International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial  Strategy in March 2020. Before joining government, his career spanned the  private and public sectors.

Dave Palmer

Director of Technology, Darktrace
Dave Palmer is a cyber security technical expert with over ten years' experience  at the forefront of government intelligence operations. He has worked across  UK intelligence agencies GCHQ and MI5, where he delivered mission-critical  infrastructure services.

Keith Weed

Independent Director
Keith Weed was Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for nine years, having worked within the company since 1983. Keith is also the President of the Advertising Association and a Fellow of both The Marketing Society and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Daria Johnen

Global Product Head, Supply Chain Finance, HSBC
Daria Johnen joined the HSBC Global Product team in 2015 as a Senior Product Manager, leading various projects. She then became lead of Supply Chain Finance Global Product team in 2017 before becoming Global Product Head.

Johnathon Marshall

Partner, Health Industries, Procurement and Supply Chain Management, PwC
Johnathon leads consulting services for large change programmes in the pharma industry at PwC, covering supply chain, operating model design, portfolio and project  management. He has been with PwC for over 12 years. Prior to this he worked in the pharma practice for Accenture for over 9 years, and in operations for FMCG.

2020: The supply chain’s digital frontier

For some businesses, the supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19 has been a wake-up call. For others, it has rapidly accelerated programs to build supply chain resilience that were already underway.

But whether they are responding to labor shortages or travel restrictions, companies are increasingly turning to advanced digital technologies to help them out.

  • In factories and warehouses depleted of staff, there is an urgent drive to take the use of robotics beyond repetitive tasks to more intelligent, analytics-based activities.
  • AI is driving change everywhere from product development to cybersecurity, where companies like Darktrace are helping businesses protect themselves from new threats that have arisen in this transformed working environment.
  • AR and VR are helping overcome travel restrictions by enabling highly-skilled, U.K.-based staff to train and support teams worldwide.
  • Banks such as HSBC are using digital platforms to connect buyers and suppliers to keep goods moving to where they are needed.
  • Demand is growing for the use of autonomous vehicles too, from major logistics firms exploring the potential of autonomous HGVs to a trial on the Isle of Wight to deliver urgent medical supplies by drone.

For companies embracing innovation to build supply chain security, the U.K. provides the resources and infrastructure they need.

Innovation clusters around the country provide an ecosystem that fosters creativity.

With four of the world’s top 10 universities, there is ready access to a highly-skilled workforce.

Innovation clusters around the country provide an ecosystem that fosters creativity and innovation in key sectors, from digitalization at Adastral Park in the east of the country, to an autonomous vehicles hub in the west.

With one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the G-20 and tax relief of up to 230% on research and development costs, there is also clear support from the U.K. government to help pioneering businesses to thrive.

And this month’s EY Attractiveness Survey demonstrates the resilience and agility of the U.K. economy compared to European peers: R&D projects are at a decade high and digital tech projects are leading the way, attracting a 30% share of all European projects.

As business worldwide responds to Covid-19 and adapts to the new supply chain realities, investing and collaborating with the U.K. provides a path to a more resilient and successful future.


Technology is the answer

PWC’s Jonathon Marshall explains how coronavirus has accelerated supply chain disruption and how technology can help.

The view from business

Keith Weed, Daria Johnen and Dave Palmer discuss how UK businesses have risen to the challenge of supply chain disruption.

Innovation in the UK

Lord Grimstone from the UK’s Department for International Trade describes how the UK is supporting global business at this time.

Why the UK?

The UK provides a clear route for businesses worldwide to build resilience into their supply chains, due to its powerful combination of:


The UK is ranked in the top 5 in the Global Innovation Index 2019. With a rich heritage of innovation, universities brimming with talent and R&D tax relief we foster businesses that move quickly and respond dynamically to the latest trends and technologies.


From having four of the world’s top 10 universities to offering one of the lowest Corporation Tax rates in the G20, the UK is committed to investing in a social and regulatory framework that helps business thrive.


The UK has the largest air transport system of any major European economy, as well as road, rail and sea links that span the world, ensuring businesses based here can easily connect to partners globally.

Reimagining advanced manufacturing

Whether it’s pioneering new materials or driving forward the sustainability agenda, the UK’s advanced manufacturing sector is dynamic, well-resourced and plugged into international networks.

Here we explore the supply chain challenges facing businesses in this sector, and how firms based in the UK are supporting partners around the world.

Watch now

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Get in touch
The Department for International Trade offers dedicated, professional assistance on every aspect of locating a new business in the UK or expanding your existing facilities. If you would like to discuss your plans, you can contact our Investment Services Team.

This page was paid for by UK’s Department for Business and Trade. The editorial staff of CNBC had no role in the creation of this page.