UK Government convenes first meeting of Digital Economy Council

Karen Bradley: ‘Council will play a vital part in making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business’.

The first meeting of the Digital Economy Council, a collaboration between the UK Government, academia and technology firms, will be held today, chaired by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley. The council was set up to provide a forum as the Government works with leading industry figures on the implementation of the UK Digital Strategy and the development of a ‘digital charter’. Its members include techUK, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Dotforge, Coadec, TV Squared, BT and Apple.

The Digital Strategy includes plans to boost digital skills, infrastructure and innovation, and aims to make the UK the best place to invest in technology. It will help to deliver the UK Government’s ambition to make it the best place to start and run a digital business, “creating more of the high-skilled, high-paid jobs of the future with the benefits felt in all four corners of the United Kingdom,” it said in a statement at the weekend..

Amid the UK’s exit from the European Union, the council will aim to ensure the technology sector’s potential is fulfilled. The UK is already home to more than 200,000 digital businesses supporting more than 1.4 million jobs – with the fastest growing-digital hubs from 2010-14 in Southampton, West Cornwall and Dundee. It also aims help break down barriers so every individual and every business can seize the opportunities of digital technology.

“I’m delighted to be bringing together this powerful group of tech experts, industry leaders and global innovators to spearhead new growth in our thriving digital economy,” said Bradley. “The Digital Economy Council will play a vital part in helping us achieve our aim of making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business with the benefits enjoyed throughout society and in every part of our country.”

The UK Government statement said that the Secretary of State will use the first meeting to ask the technology community how government can better work with them to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges of digital technology, as well as set out the priorities for the council for year ahead. This could include looking at new ways to improve small and medium businesses’ digital transformation, how to boost the digital skills pipeline and assessing how the country can better commercialise its world-leading research.

She will also express her confidence in the UK’s world-leading digital economy and commit to working with other Digital Economy Council members so technology delivers economic growth and prosperity across the whole of the UK, as it prepares to leave the European Union. The Council, which will meet quarterly, includes leading UK digital businesses as well as global tech firms and representatives of the broader digital economy.

Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK, said: “Tech can be a powerful growth engine of the UK economy post-Brexit. For that to happen there is much that we need to get right. From the Digital Strategy to the proposed new Digital Charter, I’m happy Government is working with tech businesses to ensure that we unlock the next wave of digital growth. As the President of techUK, I am delighted to serve on the Digital Economy Council to ensure a strong voice for the whole of the tech industry, from the largest employers through to the innovative SMEs and start-ups.”

The UK Government will also shortly convene the Digital Economy Advisory Group, which represents a variety of UK tech businesses, to focus on the specific challenges and opportunities of starting and growing a tech business.