The government has announced a broad new digital strategy which aims to help coordinate and focus efforts around the UK’s £150bn digital economy.
Launched by digital secretary Nadine Dorries at London Tech Week, the plan brings together many existing and some new initiatives, with the aim of delivering on the government’s “vision” of making the UK “the best place in the world to start and do grow a technology business.
The government said the strategy “brings together technology and digital policies across governments into a unified roadmap to ensure that technology, infrastructure and digital data drive economic growth and innovation in the coming years. The scheme will create new jobs, skills and services that will benefit and raise standards across the UK.”
The strategy focuses on six key areas, defined as:
digital fundamentals – including infrastructure such as broadband, data usage, cybersecurity and digital regulation.
Ideas and intellectual property – covering the UK innovation ecosystem, including universities and the private sector and building on the Innovation Strategy 2021.
digital skills – reform and improvement of the provision of skills and talent for the digital economy, including: strengthening digital education; better awareness of how to enter digital occupations; improve the digital skills base; improve access to digital skills; and recruiting global talent.
Financing digital growth – this includes improving access to finance through the British Business Bank and British Patient Capital, supporting start-ups and building on the success of the UK fintech sector.
Spread prosperity and level up – use digital technologies to support key strategic priorities, such as increasing productivity, improving public services, leveling up, and achieving net zero.
Improving the UK’s place in the world – how the UK will use its “strategic advantage in technology and digital” to influence global decisions in a digital world. This includes keeping the UK a scientific and technological superpower and helping to set global standards in digital products and services.
“The UK’s economic future, jobs, wage levels, prosperity, national security, cost of living, productivity, ability to compete globally and our geopolitical position in the world depend on the continued and growing success of the UK. digital technology,” said Chris. Philp, Minister for Technology and the Digital Economy at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
“The Digital Strategy raises [our] vision and the actions required to deliver it. Government-commissioned estimates suggest our approach to supporting and strengthening the digital economy could grow the UK tech sector’s annual gross value added (GVA) by a further £41.5bn by 2025 and create a further 678,000 jobs.”
The strategy covers almost every aspect of the government’s reach in the digital economy, from broadband to cyber security, startups to digital skills, sustainability to supercomputers.
The plan documents a series of more than 100 individual actions and goals, many of which have been previously announced, intended to support the deployment of the strategy. These include, for example:
- By 2025, at least 85% nationwide gigabit broadband coverage through the Project Gigabit program, increasing to at least 99% gigabit coverage by 2030.
- By 2025, mobile network coverage was extended to 95% of the UK via the shared rural network.
- Increase investment in R&D to £20bn a year by 2024/25.
- Launch the Digital Skills Council, to set an “ambitious agenda” to address the digital skills needed for the workforce of the future.
- Increase the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in sectors located outside of London and the South East.
- Provide £315 million of funding to support sustainable transitions in industry, including the data center sector.
- Use the G7 as a forum to uphold open society principles in technology.
“The UK digital strategy is a roadmap that we will follow to strengthen our global position as a science and technology superpower,” Philp said. “Our future prosperity and place in the world depends on it.”
More legislation is expected in the coming months to advance the government’s goals in specific areas, such as reforms to data protection laws, a plan for the UK’s semiconductor industry and AI regulation.