New funding announced to support govtech challenges

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that a £20m fund is to be set up to drive the development of new technologies in public services.

The new ‘GovTech’ challenge fund will encourage UK firms to use technology to solve challenges facing the public sector – artificial intelligence being one of them, while a dedicated new team will act as a front door into Whitehall to connect tech companies to the right parts of Government.

“Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.

“And as we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business. That means Government doing all it can to secure a strong future for our thriving tech sector and ensure people in all corners of our nation share in the benefits of its success.”

 

Tech sector support

In the run up to the Budget, the Prime Minister and Chancellor will co-host a tech roundtable and reception at Downing Street, and reaffirm the Government’s enduring commitment to this vital industry.

Additional support to be made available includes:

  • Doubling to 2,000 the number of visas available to the brightest and best talent from around the world, including in digital technology
  • An investment of £21m to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network – Tech Nation – to accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector across the country
  • The launch of a £20m training programme which will challenge thousands of young people aged between 14 and 18 to test their skills against simulated online cyber threats

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Our digital tech sector is one of the UK’s fastest-growing industries, and is supporting talent, boosting productivity, and creating hundreds of thousands of good, high-skilled jobs up and down the country.

“Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.”

 

Further measures

The Home Office will look at how it can work with organisations across the UK to ensure wider take up of the additional visas outside London. Alongside this, the Home Secretary will meet with technology experts to seek their input on making sure our visa processes are as efficient as possible.

The new funding for Tech Nation will see the organisation expand its successful hub model to more cities around the country, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Building on the work of existing regional clusters, Tech Nation will support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups as they scale their businesses.

A new £2 million pilot voucher scheme is also being launched today by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in Aberdeenshire, Bristol/Bath and North East Somerset, Coventry and Warwickshire, and West Yorkshire. This is part of Government’s pledge to help bring the UK’s fastest and most reliable broadband to homes and businesses across the country. Local companies will be among those offered vouchers by broadband suppliers to pay for gold-standard full-fibre gigabit connections, to help revolutionise our digital infrastructure and make it fit for the future.

The PM and Chancellor will also confirm that over two million people have now received free digital skills training from businesses such as Barclays, Cisco, Google and Lloyds Banking Group, under the Digital Skills Partnership launched by DCMS earlier this year.

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