Press release

UK digital and tech firms power ahead in global trade race

Pioneering UK digital firms have seen their international trade grow by more than 20 per cent, underlining the country’s reputation as a world leader in tech.


Pioneering UK digital firms have seen their international trade grow by more than 20 per cent, 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 per cent 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 per cent and worth more than £15bn.

Digital Secretary Matt Hancock:

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 per cent of GDP on research and development, as well skills and business mentoring initiatives such as Tech Nation.

Companies highlighting the UK’s expertise in technology include cyber security firm Darktrace, which has recently been valued at more than $1bn, making it a tech unicorn, and Improbable, which last year closed a $502m investment round, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Dundee-based 4J Studios, best known for its work on global video game hit Minecraft, has a global reach and, as part of the city’s £200m tech sector, is turning over more than £11m a year.

The recent Tech Nation 2018 report also highlighted smaller firms such as Exeter’s Milkalyser which has raised more than £1 million investment and created an automated system to measure hormones in milk during milking. It has a strong international presence and an Italian distributor.

BJSS, based in Leeds, is an award-winning IT and digital consultancy working with some of the world’s largest public and private sector organisations to design, deliver and support large-scale digital transformation. Its Enterprise Agile project has been exported to the US.

Creative industries

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 per cent 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 per cent versus 8.8 per cent.

Notes to editors

Media enquiries: DCMS News and Communications team on 020 7211 2210 or out of hours on 07699 751153.

Link to statistics.

Published 6 June 2018