Jonathan Black is this year’s Heywood Fellow, a visiting fellowship created by the Heywood Foundation in memory of former Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, to enable deeper exploration and analysis of issues around public service and policy. Jonathan will shortly be returning to the post of Deputy National Security Adviser in the UK Government.

  • Report recommends a new ‘National Economic Security Centre’ to enable further interaction between business and government on key issues
  • This recommendation is supported by findings from a YouGov poll of 600 business leaders where almost 60% reported that geopolitical risk was becoming increasingly important to their decision-making and almost two thirds wanted further information exchange with government
  • Other recommendations include developing a doctrine for economic statecraft, accelerating the adoption of AI to support data driven policymaking and establishing an economic security cadre within the civil service.

The report argues that geopolitical trends are creating profound challenges for policy and policy making for all countries. It sets out an agenda for how policy making needs to change to stay ahead of these trends and foster a culture where integrated and innovative policymaking is instinctive across six areas: people, information and insight, partnership with business, alliances between countries, systems, and structures.

One of the report’s most significant conclusions centres on a ‘National Economic Security Centre’, a one-stop-shop for supporting emerging and sensitive technology businesses with innovation, investment and export decisions. The centre would aim to create safe space for interaction between the business boardroom and the cabinet table in addressing geopolitical challenges shared by business and governments, to identify risks early and act on them, and in particular to help smaller business navigate them. 

Jonathan Black, Heywood Fellow said:

“In an era of renewed statecraft, where economic and security interests are intertwined as never before, all countries are going to need to get much smarter at using every lever they have in an integrated way in pursuit of prosperity, peace and public trust. It has been a privilege to have been Heywood Fellow. I hope the insight and ideas we have developed over the year are of practical use in helping policymaking step up to this challenge, but above all do justice to Jeremy’s memory.”

Suzanne Heywood, Chair of the Heywood Foundation, said,

“We are delighted that Jonathan has been a Heywood Fellow and that, at this moment of huge geopolitical turbulence, has produced a piece of thinking that will improve the way in which government thinks about the interaction between security and economic issues. His work shows the importance of taking the time to do longer term policy thinking and applying this to the way in which government works, something that Jeremy passionately supported.”

The recommendation for a National Economic Security Centre is backed by insights from the YouGov poll. 60% of respondents said geopolitical risk was becoming increasingly important to their decision-making. While 65% of the largest businesses felt they know how geopolitics is impacting them, and 55% felt they were managing these risks well, that fell to 45% and 40% respectively for smaller businesses. The survey showed business principally was looking for more informal engagement with government in navigating geopolitical risk, rather than necessarily more formal rules. In fact, nearly two thirds thought there should be more information exchange, just over 55% thought there should be more formal guidance and informal advice.

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Notes to editors

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About the Blavatnik School of Government

The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford seeks to support governments around the world in addressing some of the most urgent challenges and harnessing the opportunities. Its teaching aims to build communities of exceptional leaders, armed with outstanding research, to create a world better led, better served and better governed.

About the Heywood Foundation

The Heywood Foundation was set up in the memory of Jeremy Heywood, Lord Heywood of Whitehall, who was Cabinet Secretary until his death in 2018. Jeremy worked for four different UK Prime Ministers and strongly believed in the importance of policy innovation and promoting diversity within the Public Sector. The Heywood Fellowship has been supported by the Heywood Foundation, the Cabinet Office, the Blavatnik School of Government, Hertford College and the ESRC.