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Growing the UK’s digital economy

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Currently the UK digital economy is relatively small

The Economist magazine recently observed:

despite appearances, the UK digital economy is still relatively small.

The digital economy contributes 7% of national output; only 5% of jobs and 9% of businesses form part of the UK digital workplace. This is similar to the US contribution, but behind South Korea, which leads the world at more than 11%.

So, despite media hype and the rapid growth of digital (around 30% faster than the rest of the economy), there is still plenty to do.

Need to increase scale and productivity

Digital Catapult, Creative light bulb with application icon

Increasing the scale of many new businesses is still a challenge.

Equally, the opportunities for larger UK businesses to increase productivity through digital transformation remain substantial. Many incumbents are yet to capitalise on the digital dividend in their companies.

That is why we need to continue to accelerate the development of the UK digital sector with a strong sense of wanting to promote that which is both commercial and ethical.

After two and half years in action, Digital Catapult is refreshing its strategy. We’re taking a broader view of the digital landscape.

Digital Catapult strategic refresh

Digital Catapult, technology structure

As a start, we’ve identified key technology layers, which represent significant global opportunities for UK companies.

  • Data-driven – personal data, privacy, trust, cyber-security and blockchain

Digital Catapult is keen to continue efforts to build new market opportunities for SMEs and larger companies around increasingly important issues of trust and privacy in personal data.

  • Connected – Internet of Things, 5G, low-powered wide area networks

Delivering content, data, services and applications across networks is clearly a growing opportunity and UK businesses have much to offer in this area.

Digital Catapult sees the development of open experimental networks as great means to trial new services and demonstrate new efficiencies for incumbents.

  • Intelligent – machine learning and artificial intelligence

The UK has produced exciting new businesses such as Deep Mind, many of which have been rapidly acquired. Digital Catapult wants to explore how to retain more UK expertise in this area.

  • Immersive – virtual reality, augmented reality, haptics and new forms of human machine interface

Digital Catapult, human hands using virtual panel

As, the Government Chief Scientist, Sir Mark Walport mentioned in his report in May of this year:

If the UK wanted to make a strategic play in the sector, now would be the time with many big firms investing.

The opportunity in the next 3-5 years is for the UK’s games development, TV production and special effects companies to grow into a brand new sector, which could lead the world.

Digital Catapult’s analysis suggests the application of technologies in key market segments offers significant economic growth potential. Current best thinking suggests the following segments will be good targets:

  • Creative industries
  • Digital manufacturing
  • Health, wellbeing, fitness
  • Cross innovation

Now have your say

The Digital Catapult team has done a lot of preliminary ground work to identify new areas of focus and a refreshed strategy to approach the market.

We now want to receive input from stakeholders in all areas of the community. To find out more about our new strategy and have your say, please:

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Andrew Gudgeon OBE posted on

    It is fantastic to see the UK Government leading innovative thought and setting the conditions for Cyber Growth, underpinned by its Cyber Security activity ....