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Government reviews regulation to enable tech innovation

The government reforms are aimed at ensuring that regulations keep up with technological change

The UK government has announced new measures to ensure the regulatory system can effectively support technology innovation.

The changes unveiled during London Tech Week aim to enable faster time to market for businesses and greater consumer control of their data, as well as access to innovative offerings.

A Regulatory Horizons Council is part of the proposed reforms, whereby the government will be advised of regulations that need to evolve and adapt to respond to changes in technology. A digital interface, the Regulation Navigator, will help businesses make sense of regulations as they develop their ideas.

As part of the proposals, the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, which backs trials of new technology in partnership with regulators, will also be reviewed. The World Economic Forum will also advise the UK government to share best practice on how to get innovative products and services to market.

“Our plans will ensure the UK’s regulatory system maintains its pioneering reputation, keeping pace with cutting-edge technology – from personalised AI [artificial intelligence] medicine to smart ships that can navigate the seas autonomously,” said business secretary Greg Clark when announcing the proposals on 11 June.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy and innovative regulatory landscape will ensure the UK remains the destination of choice for those developing and bringing transformative products and services to market rapidly and safely,” he added.

Regulation designed for old ways of doing things has often stood in the way of innovation, so it is critical that rules are able to keep up with the pace of technology change, according to Antony Walker, deputy chief executive at TechUK.

“This approach can help ensure different rules can be tested safely and quickly, and that where regulation is no longer fit for the modern world, there is a process for allowing it to be reformed," Walker said.

According to the TechUK chief, the measure of success for the new approach will be all parts of government working together to support innovation.

“As tech revolutionises every part of our economy and society, it can no longer just be ‘digital’ departments that think about the impact of rules on tech innovation,” Walker added.

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