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Pioneering UK digital firms have seen their international trade grow by more than 20%, underlining the country’s reputation as a world leader in tech.
New figures published today by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) show the digital sector exported more than £39bn in services in 2016, up from £32bn in 2015, as UK firms capitalised on the rapid digitisation of the world economy.
This is unprecedented growth of 21.8 year on year and shows Britain is well-placed to seize the future trading opportunities linked to cutting-edge technology.
Exports of goods in the digital sector, in which figures are based on the types of products rather than business activity, were also strong.
This includes products such as software and manufactured electronics and computers rather than computer programming, consultancy, and information services.
Exports of goods by the digital sector were up 7.3% and worth more than £15bn.
Matt Hancock, Digital Secretary, said: “These new statistics show our tech sector is in demand from businesses and consumers around the globe, with exports up by a fifth.
“We are working hard to create the right environment for them to thrive and alongside the huge innovation of the private sector are determined to seize all the future opportunities technology will bring.”
The Government is supporting the technology sector through its Digital and Industrial Strategies, almost £1 billion of investment in artificial intelligence, competitive tax relief, a commitment to spend 2.4% of GDP on research and development, as well skills and business mentoring initiatives such as Tech Nation.
The recent Tech Nation 2018 report highlighted Cardiff as one of the UK’s leading tech clusters. The city has more than 20,000 digital tech jobs compared to the UK average of about 4,500.
Digital businesses based in the Welsh capital generated £641 million in revenue last year, while 78 new tech firms were created between 2016 and 2017, according to the report.
Welsh companies highlighting the UK’s expertise in technology include cyber security firm Capital Network Solutions, which has established its reputation as one of the leading and most respected cyber security businesses in the UK with customers based across the globe.
Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “These statistics underline that Wales is an established market leader and innovator in technology, home to a burgeoning number of start-ups and established giants of fintech like Go Compare.
“The sector is generating more than £600 million in turnover every year and flourishing new technology companies are discovering that investors want to back them in Wales.
“The UK Government is committed to helping technology flourish and Tech Nation’s annual snapshot points to an industry on the cusp of even faster growth.”
The statistics also show strong international growth in the creative industries, which includes publishing, advertising, marketing as well as film, TV, radio and photography.
Exports of services in the creative industries by UK firms grew more than 27% between 2015 and 2016, and they are worth more than £27bn.
Overall, DCMS sectors continue to outperform the rest of the economy and reaffirm the Department’s position as an economic powerhouse. Total year-on-year growth in exports of services in all DCMS sectors outstripped the growth of the UK as a whole by more than double – up 21.4% versus 8.8%.