David Lidington told the Cutlers’ Feast in Sheffield that the Government was committed to creating a Northern Powerhouse, by investing in schools and transport.
He added: “We are so focused on innovation because the city of Sheffield, and the history of the North of England, has shown us time and again that it can create widespread change, not only revolutionising manufacturing, but helping to create a better way of life.
“However, in order for that change to happen, innovation needs to be nurtured and managed effectively.”
Mr Lidington said that, during the industrial revolution, Sheffield was transformed from a market town to a city recognised around the world.
He added: “This transformation was fired by incredible entrepreneurialism but also supported by government action – whether in maintaining and extending free markets, opening up infrastructure or improving working conditions.
“Today, as we drive forward a Fourth Industrial Revolution, we may face a very different landscape. But some of the challenges remain the same.”
“As now, Sheffield’s industries were intimately connected to the global economy, with steel forged from Russian iron being exported and sold to American markets.”
Mr Lidington added: “Sheffield Steel helped to shape the world. And the innovation we see flourishing here today has far-reaching effects, not just in this region, but for the wider national and global economy too. So we need to encourage more of that innovation, right across the country.”
The Cutlers’ Company can trace its roots back to 1624, when it was formed as a trade guild.
The Master Cutler acts as a spokesman for traditional manufacturing industries across the historic region of Hallamshire.