Government provides £20 million for govtech challenges

Prime minister outlines package of measures to boost UK digital technology industry

The Government is setting up £20 million fund to support the development of new technologies in public services.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the move as one of a series of measures aimed at innovation in the digital technology sector.

She did so with plans to co-host a tech round table with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond at Downing Street.

The £20 million will be channelled through a series of challenges for UK firms to use technology to deal with issues facing the public sector. It will be accompanied by a dedicated team acting as a ‘front door’ into Whitehall to connect companies with the relevant parts of the Government.

The prime minister’s statement pointed to artificial intelligence as one of the technologies that is likely to receive support.

Other measures include new funding for Tech City UK – which supports digital start-ups – to expand its hub model to more cities, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham. It is expected to provide support for 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-ups.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is to launch a new £2 million pilot voucher scheme to promote the take-up of fibre broadband by local companies in a number of regions, including Aberdeenshire, Bristol, Bath and North-East Somerset, Coventry and Warwickshire, and West Yorkshire. The companies will be able to use the vouchers to pay for full fibre gigabit connections.

Skills training

In addition, the prime minister will confirm that more than 2 million people have now received free digital skills training under the Digital Skills Partnership launched earlier this year, and point to the apprenticeships and university bursary offered by the National Cyber Security Centre.

The prime minister 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.

“It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector, which makes such an immense contribution to our economic life and to our society, has the full backing of government.

“Helping our world class entrepreneurs and innovators to succeed is how we lay the foundations for our prosperity and build an economy fit for the future.

“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.”

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