Tech for Good is worth the effort, says new research

Written by Lucy Wakeford, DigitalAgenda

A report by Tech Nation, published this week, has outlined the economic success of tech for good in the UK. Socially responsible technology companies have been revealed to be worth a combined £2.3 billion, with a turnover of £732 million. In comparison, the manufacture of consumer electronics is responsible for only £634 million turnover. Tech for good is truly beginning to dominate the tech sector.

These companies are typically small, young and dynamic, with almost half identified as being ‘at seed stage’ – this highlights how the sector has great potential for even more growth in the next few years.

At the heart of this movement towards socially responsible tech is the millennial ethos that tech should not just be ‘for profit’ – it should also have value to society.

One part of this growth is within ‘GovTech’ – an emerging sector into which the government has poured £20 million of investment working through GDS and with partners like Digital Leaders. This is an area where private sector companies are invited to modernise the public sector with emerging tech, and has already produced some exciting new technologies such as AI that is able to identify Daesh propaganda as it appears on the internet.

Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State, DCMS asked tech for good industry leaders to Downing Street this week to discuss how to make the UK a global leader in this sector. These leaders included 2018 Impact Award Winners OLIO, a venture that allows users to share their unwanted food with those nearby – reducing food waste. Beam, a finalist in our Education and Skills Category this year, were also invited. Alex Stephany’s platform trains homeless men and women, helping them get into work. You can see a list of 36 great examples of the industry here.

Jeremy Wright said “My department sponsored the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards to celebrate the successes of “tech for good” ventures, we are establishing a £1m Challenge Prize focussed on tackling social isolation and we are backing the creation of Social Tech Trust’s equity fund to encourage people to be healthier and build connected communities using tech.’

Commenting on the report he added, ‘It is promising to see UK for-profit firms in this sector raised more than £1bn in venture capital in 2018, once again proving our reputation as a beacon for investment” adding “I am determined to support this sector and in January I announced a number of initiatives to help speed up  growth and generate new ideas in this area”

However, the strength of UK tech for good does not preclude challenges within the sector. The relative youth of the companies studied shows that start-ups need more support in scaling up and continuing to grow.

You can read the full Tech Nation Report here

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