The UK’s technology trade association, formerly known as Intellect, has relaunched today as TechUK, unveiling plans to create over 500,000 jobs by 2020.
TechUK hopes to be different from Intellect by becoming a focal point for the interests of the whole of the UK’s technology sector – as opposed to simply representing the 800 or so companies signed up as members, which range from international IT suppliers to startups and consumer tech firms.
The organisation has announced a series of new initiatives to help promote and develop the UK tech sector:
- A partnership with UK Trade and Investment to help 1,000 UK technology companies to export their goods and services for the first time.
- Setting up the UK Spectrum Policy Forum, to bring together 70 interested parties to make better use of radio spectrum.
- Leading a new initiative on cyber crime, designed to learn the lessons from other safety critical industries on how to improve security in the products the sector provides.
- Working with training firm Code Club to set up such clubs in 25% of primary schools by 2015 to teach children the basics of coding, and help address long-term concerns over skills shortages.
TechUK chief executive Julian David said the overall aim is to build awareness of the opportunities presented by technology and for the IT sector to take a leading role in the UK’s economic and government policy.
“TechUK is a new platform to address the big future challenges for the country, from building more efficient energy networks to transforming the delivery of health and social care. This platform will include the breadth and depth of UK tech – from new startups to established international players,” he said.
Secretary of state for business Vince Cable formally launched the new organisation today.
He said: “The UK is home to numerous innovative, high-tech companies. Through our Industrial Strategy we are working with the IT sector to identify those areas where government can assist growth; in particular, training, access to finance, procurement and support for innovation. TechUK will be at the forefront of building our relationship with an industry that employs around 1.3 million people across the UK."
David told Computer Weekly the government has underestimated the tech sector’s contribution to the UK economy in the past.
“We always suspected there were a lot more tech companies in the UK [than official figures suggested]. Recently there was a piece of work done that identified twice as many tech companies than the government realised – about a quarter of a million firms,” he said.
The increased numbers come from looking at the role of digital technologies in different industries.
“It’s about looking at the footprint of what companies do and recognising that every industry is dependent on digital for what they do,” said David.
“If you look at construction for example, the whole supply chain is subcontracted and virtual and there are companies within that whose products are digital. That’s the definition – if their primary output is digital, that’s what counts.”
TechUK is calling on the government to take a longer-term view in its policies to help the technology sector grow.
“We never know what the policy framework is here over a number of years. If we knew, we could make long-term investments. It’s the same on skills and on other infrastructure investments,” said David.
“We want to see longer term investment and a focus on the [technology] markets where the UK can lead – such as financial services and healthcare.”