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UK and France to collaborate on digital tech

The UK and French governments have joined forces to increase technology and innovation cooperation between the two nations

The UK and France have teamed up to seize the economic and social benefits of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.

The joint strategy includes plans for a future digital conference, where experts from both countries will come together and share knowledge and skills on a range of issues such as AI, cyber security and digital skills.

UK digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) secretary Matt Hancock said the initiative would benefit both nations.

“The UK and France are strengthening ties in technology and innovation,” he said. “I am looking forward to leading a cutting-edge digital conference this year which will see our world-leading experts in cyber security, digital skills, artificial intelligence, data and digital government share their talent and knowledge.

“Both countries benefit when our digital economies are strong and the event will deepen our bonds and foster cross-Channel collaboration between those at the forefront of modern technology.” 

The digital conference, which will take place on a date to be decided this year, will follow the same model as the UK-France Taskforce on Data Innovation, which focused on understanding the potential of big data.

The tech industry has welcomed the initiative. Julian David, CEO of trade body TechUK, described it as a “significant step towards greater collaboration between the British and French tech sectors”.  

He added: “Both countries share similar opportunities and challenges as we build our leading digital economies through technologies like AI, the internet of things and cyber security.

David said the collaboration also means that industry and government will get a “valuable cross-border perspectives on many of the social, legal and ethical questions that will be raised as we continue to innovate”.

The UK and France both saw huge investments in the tech sector in 2017. In Europe, the UK came out on top with £6.8bn in digital tech investment, and France came second.

Last year, tech firms in London received more venture capital funding than all other major European cities combined, with the amount invested doubling since 2016. 

Research by the mayor of London agency London & Partners showed venture capital funds totalling £2.45bn were invested in London-based tech firms in 2017. Tech firms in Paris came second, with funding worth £565m.

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