Government's £400m Digital Infrastructure Fund launches, kickstarting plans to make Britain more digital and improve broadband

Lynsey Barber
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Top tech bosses will meet with the government to discuss the digital economy while broadband gets a boost (Source: Getty)

The government is kickstarting its plans to make Britain more digital with the launch of a £400m investment fund designed to boost connectivity across the country.

Promised in the Spring Budget by chancellor Philip Hammond, the Digital Infrastructure Fund is expected to be at least matched by private investment, bringing the total to £1bn for getting Britain's full-fibre broadband up to speed.

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The new fund, run by Amber Infrastructure and Prudential's M&G/Infracapital, will fund private sector companies delivering the broadband connectivity with the goal of making money for the government.

Meanwhile, efforts to create closer ties between government, industry and academic research start today with the first meeting between the culture secretary Karen Bradley and top tech bosses from Facebook, Apple, Google and more

"The Digital Economy Council will play a vital part in helping us achieve our aim of making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business with the benefits enjoyed throughout society and in every part of our country," said Bradley.

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Venture capital firms LocalGlobe, BGF Ventures and Seedcamp, organisations such as TechUK, Coadec and the Oxford Internet Institute will also form part of the group which is expected to meet quarterly.

Amazon's UK boss Doug Gurr, Google's vice president for UK and Ireland Ronan Harris and Siemens' UK chief executive Juergen Maier are among those attending.

The group, formed as part of the government's digital strategy, will address several areas of the digital economy, such as skills, digital transformation for business and commercialising the country's world leading research.

And in a sign of the increasing significance of the digital economy, the department for culture, media and sport has been renamed the department for digital, culture, media and sport. It will still be referred to as DCMS for short.

"The department has taken on significant new responsibilities in recent years, so that half of its policy and delivery work now covers the digital sectors - telecommunications, data protection, internet safety, cyber skills and parts of media and the creative industries," said Bradley.

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