Ministers have today unveiled plans to boost the UK’s tech sector and spur investment into the digital economy in a bid to cement the country “as a global tech superpower”.
The new UK Digital Strategy, unveiled by digital minister Chris Philp today to mark the start of London Tech Week, will look to breathe new life into the UK’s digital economy by addressing areas including tech sector skills, investment and infrastructure.
Philp said today: “Just as Thatcher unleashed the power of the market to transform our economy in the 1980s, unleashing the power of the tech sector will transform our economy today.
“In the last five years the UK has raced ahead of Europe to become a global tech leader and now we’re setting the course for the future.”
The new plans, the first update to the UK’s digital strategy since 2017, will look to “strengthen [the UK’s] global position as a science and technology superpower”, Philp said.
A dearth of tech skills and talent has been called out by government as hampering the growth of the economy, with a lack of digital skills estimated to have cost the UK economy £63bn, according to a 2016 select committee report.
The new plan will aim to remedy a skills shortage by improving digital education in schools, and increasing undergraduate numbers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects).
The Office for Students has also been announced today as the provider for up to 2,000 scholarships to ensure the UK has the advanced digital skills it needs to maintain the country’s leading position in cutting-edge AI and data science.
Government is also looking to unlock funding from institutional investors in the UK and encourage more pension cash to be pumped into startups and long term growth opportunities.
The plans come as fresh figures reveal that the UK sailed ahead of Europe in terms of tech investment with £12.4bn, placing it second behind the US globally in terms of capital raised and double that of France, according to data by Dealroom analysed for the UK’s Digital Economy Council.
Speaking to the conference, Philp said that President Macron would be “choking on his croissant this morning” after reading the figures.