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UK technology firms have increased international trade by more than 20%, according figures from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The figures show that the country’s tech sector continues to grow, and exported more than £39bn of services in 2016, compared with £32bn in 2015, showing an increase of 21.8%.
The sector has also increased the export of products, such as software and computers, by 7.3% to £15bn.
As Computer Weekly has previously reported, the UK tech sector is growing more than two-and-a-half times faster than the overall economy, and according to the Tech Nation report 2018 published in May 2018, it is worth nearly £184bn to the economy, a rise from £170bn in 2016.
Digital secretary Matt Hancock said the DCMS figures showed that the UK’s technology businesses were seeing demand from businesses and consumers around the globe, with exports up by a fifth.
“We are working hard to create the right environment for them to thrive, and, alongside the huge innovation of the private sector, are determined to seize all the future opportunities technology will bring.”
The Tech Nation report added that UK entrepreneurs were optimistic about the future of the UK’s digital tech sector, with 70% of respondents expecting the number of digital technology businesses in their local area to rise over the next 12 months. Nine out of 10 expected the scale of digital tech businesses in their local area to either expand or stay the same.
In March 2017, the government published its digital strategy, highlighting how it planned to make the UK the “best place to start and grow a digital business”.
As part of this work, chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Autumn Statement that the government would invest £21m over the next four years to expand Tech City’s reach, with the aim of becoming a “Tech Nation”, supporting regional tech companies and startups across the country.
The government has also promised to increase spending on research and development (R&D) by £2bn a year, amounting to around 2.4% of GDP. In 2017, the Confederation of British Industry called on the government to commit to spending 3% of GDP on R&D to avoid being left behind after Brexit.
However, the prime minister has called on industry to invest more in R&D themselves, saying that British businesses currently invest around £1.70 in R&D for every £1 of government support, but that counterparts in the US invest around £2.70 and in Germany they invest nearly £2.40.