UK Digital Strategy Policy Paper Summary 


14/06/2022


Overview

This document provides a summary of the UK government’s policy paper titled UK Digital Strategy, published on 13th June 2022. The paper begins with an overview of the foundations required to meet the advancement of the all-digital economy, including a robust intellectual property framework. It goes on to examine the human and capital resources that will be required to support this tech-based economy. Finally, it puts the government’s strategy into the context of overarching aims and ambitions moving into the future. This summary mirrors that structure. 

Digital foundations

Any successful digital economy will be founded on 4 key pillars:

Robust digital infrastructure

This means that everyone, regardless of where they live or work, can access the connectivity and services they need for an ever-digitising world.

Unlocking the power of data

The ability to employ data effectively is key to commercial productivity, and the safe availability of data also enables innovation and research. 

A light-touch pro-innovation regulatory framework

Avoiding unnecessary layers of regulation or overly prescriptive approaches will create competitive advantage for UK industry, whilst simultaneously protecting businesses and consumers. 

A secure digital environment

This involves not only elements to physically secure the UK’s networks but also to ensure the safety of every day digital devices, to ensure the continued integrity of the UK’s innovation and development. 

Ideas and intellectual property (IP)

The UK is a world-leading innovator, partly because of the strong IP system which protects the value of innovation. In order to further strengthen the UK’s ability to innovate, the government has committed to increasing its research and development budget. It has also promised that’s active effort will be made to crowd-in private sector funding alongside this public investment, and investments will continue to take a strategic and coordinated approach, to respond with agility to emerging opportunities. 

UK Research and Innovation has outlined 7 key areas of emerging opportunity, including AI and quantum, which will form the targets of investment, particularly at universities which are going to be at the forefront of technological innovation. The life sciences sector, for example, will be targeted through university hospitals. 

Digital skills and talent

Digital is going to be at the heart of the future economy. As a result, swathes of tech and digitally skilled workers are going to be required to support and maintain critical economic facets. Naturally this will necessitate a strengthening of the digital education pipeline, as well as investment into recruitment so that awareness of pathways into digital occupations is maximised. 

Lifelong development will also be key, with the digital workforce likely to require constant training and upskilling in order to ensure that their skills match the complexity of rapidly emerging technologies. However, this is not to say that education and investment in this area will be transient. Instead, it is hoped that the digital economy will be supported by a workforce embedded with lifelong digital skill that will supersede rapid technological development. 

Financing digital growth

For the UK to maintain its status as the tech hub of Europe, the UK tech sector is going to require investment from the ground up. This capital will come from a range of sources including:
  • Seed investment from institutional investors such as pension funds. 
  • Business support schemes in order to help smaller technology companies to expand their networks, accelerate growth and create jobs. 
  • UK-based investors for later-stage, scale-up rounds of investment.

The whole UK: spreading prosperity and levelling up

The UK government is taking steps to ensure that the widest possible range of UK enterprises can take advantage of the digital revolution. 

Businesses that adopt digital technologies are demonstrably more productive. However, many businesses fail to adopt the right technologies at the right time because ‘there is too much confusing information’ about established technology solutions. To support businesses to overcome this challenge, DCMS supported the development and launch of Digital Boost, which matches small businesses and charities with a network of digital experts willing to offer pro bono 1:1 mentoring, and directs them to digital skills-related content, courses and webinars.

Where cost is an issue, Help to Grow: Digital gives eligible businesses a financial discount of up to 50% of the cost of an approved technology solution, up to a maximum of £5,000. Help to Grow: Digital is expected to help over 100,000 businesses over the next 3 years. 

Enhancing the UK’s place in the world

As digital technology becomes increasingly intertwined with the economy, its geopolitical significance will increase exponentially. The UK government is already taking steps to ensure proper digital governance. For example, the Prime Minister established the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and the Office for Science and Technology Strategy to ensure that the Government aligns UK capabilities towards this ambition. The forthcoming International Tech Strategy will also set a common set of democratic principles to frame the UK’s international engagement on technologies.

Underpinning the democratisation of a digital economy will be an ethical governance framework designed to ensure that digital development remains principled, sustainable and with human rights at its core.