Everything you need to know about the UK’s post-Brexit Digital Strategy

Big Ben UK government

The UK government has announced its plans to keep the UK at the forefront of digital.

The proposals, which come in the wake of the UK’s looming divorce from the European Union, include plans to offer over four million free digital skills training opportunities as part of a Digital Strategy that seeks to make Britain “the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business”.

According to a statement, Google, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group will participate in the scheme.

Overall, the government will seek to:

  • Create five international tech hubs in emerging markets to help forge partnerships between UK companies and local technology firms. According to a statement, these hubs will be based upon the UK-Israel Tech Hub, which to date has been credited with delivering more than 80 partnerships with a deal value of £62m.
  • Launch a new competition to spark the development of new FinTech products, building on the country’s existing financial technology system, estimated to be valued at over £6.6bn in 2015.
  • Commit to create a Secretary of State-led forum for government and tech community to work together and grow the digital economy.
  • A Business Connectivity Forum, to be chaired by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to bring together business organisations, local authorities and communications providers to help businesses access fast, affordable and reliable broadband.
  • Commit to its £1bn programme to keep Britain at the forefront of digital connectivity announced in the Autumn Statement. This funding will accelerate the development and uptake of next generation digital infrastructure – including full fibre broadband plans and 5G.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley commented on the news, highlighting that the UK’s digital sector was a major driver of growth and productivity and that the government was determined to protect and strengthen it.

“This Digital Strategy sets a path to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research as part of the Government’s plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation.

“To do that, we will work closely with businesses and others to make sure the benefits and opportunities are spread across the country so nobody is left behind.

“There should be no digital divide – every individual and every business should have the skills and confidence to make the most of digital technology and have easy access to high-quality internet wherever they live, work, travel or learn,” Bradley added.

AI boost

The government’s strategy also confirmed measures previously announced to boost the country’s AI sector. These include:

  • A major AI review led by Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti to identify the critical elements for this technology to thrive and grow in the UK. The review would look into how government and industry could work together to further support this technology, in hope of establishing the potential for a possible sector deal.
  • A funding boost of £17.3m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support the development of new robotics and artificial intelligence technologies in universities across the UK.

The Digital Strategy also seeks to build on the Government Transformation Strategy, launched earlier this month by Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer, which maps out how government will work to transform the relationship between citizens and the state in an attempt to improve public services.