The UK has a history of adopting new technologies and achieving technical breakthroughs. These have included many of the early stages of computer science, and the first MP3 player, first portable computer, first handheld television set and the first 3D computer game. (See longer list in the UK Firsts section of www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk). In the mobile content market, the UK is the leading centre for app development in europe, and it is an established leader in visual effects, post-production and other sectors in which technology and creativity intersect.
An important contributing factor has been the UK’s open, competitive environment in which innovators are able to develop ideas and collaborate, and find funders and partnering organisations. It offers excellent educational institutions. The UK is ranked fifth worldwide for the quality of its research institutions and second for scientific publications (Source: 2018 Global Competitiveness Report, World Economic Forum).
This video from the Technology Transfer Network of the Technology Strategy Board celebrates examples of creative organisations that have exploited technology to innovate within their sectors.
The UK has the conditions to support a culture of cross-pollination across creative sectors. CreaTech is the name given to those sectors and businesses benefiting from the interaction of creativity and technology, which are driving an expansion in jobs and business opportunities in areas such as AI, augmented reality and data science. The UK has leading expertise in performance, storytelling, data, craft and games, which often provide the base for CreaTech innovations when linked to new technologies.
Cross-pollination of skills and talent has often characterised UK creativity and creative clusters of different sub-sectors can be found in cities such as London, Bristol, Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester.
The UK has a well-established, transparent framework for protecting technology innovations and a stable business and political environment. Overall, the UK is ranked as the most attractive location in Europe for research and development (source: Department of Business, Innovation and Skills report) and fifth globally for innovation (source: Global Innovation Index.). It was ranked top for macro-economic stability and for the low cost of setting up a business in 2018 by the World Economic Forum.
The UK provides tech companies with a large market of sophisticated, digitally savvy consumers and an estimated 26m broadband connections and 12.8m superfast broadband connections. This provides a laboratory in which to test and launch new products. With high levels of broadband penetration and widespread adoption of digital behaviour in consumption and e-commerce, the UK is "digitally-ready" (see Bain/Enders Analysis report).
The UK’s multicultural population, social liberalism and quality of life also make it an attractive prospect for global technology companies to re-locate and hire staff (see KPMG article on the UK).
UK technology businesses attract strong levels of investment from overseas companies and private equity/venture capital firms: between January and July 2019, investment in UK tech grew by 43 per cent to $6.7bn, according to a report by Tech Nation and dealroom.co. The UK's technology sector attracts more tech investment than any other European market, For early stage projects, funding is also available from bodies such as Digital Catapult, NESTA, and the EPSRC.
The UK has seen major recent investments from tech groups including Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Snap Inc, Softbank and Mitsubishi.