Rapid expansion of immersive tech companies in the UK, featuring WaveOptics

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Rapid expansion of immersive tech companies in the UK

The UK’s immersive technologies sector is growing rapidly with 1,000 specialist companies across the UK with an expected turnover that could reach £1bn this year according to a new report out today https://www.immerseuk.org

The study is the first of its kind to map the UK immersive sector that covers technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.

The report was commissioned from the innovation foundation Nesta by Immerse UK with funding from Innovate UK.

Key findings include:

  • There are around 1,000 immersive specialist companies in the UK employing 4,500 people and generating some £660 million in sales, potentially representing as much as 9& of the global market share. If the UK market keeps pace with global growth forecasts, turnover could reach £1 bn the end of this year.
  • 70% of specialist companies surveyed are exporting immersive-related products and services with a particular focus on US markets.
  • Immersive specialist companies have established roots in the creative industries, but many of them are applying their innovative technologies to other sectors such as education & training, architecture, advanced manufacturing and energy.
  • While there is strong immersive activity in London, there are also growing clusters in a number of UK cities such as Brighton, Bristol, Newcastle, Liverpool and Belfast.

Digital and the Creative Industries Minister Margot James said:

“The UK is home to world-leading tech sector and creative industries and in recent years we have seen them come together to develop innovative technology of tomorrow, but we cannot be complacent. This is why we are investing £33 million in immersive technology products, services and experiences as part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal as we build a Britain fit for the future.”

Fiona Kilkelly, Immerse UK, Knowledge Transfer Network Knowledge said:

“This report quantifies and describes a fast-growing, confident and export intensive industry that is already adding economy value to the UK. Its findings provide the insights and intelligence needed to better support the complex needs of this emerging business community. It reveals the richness of its activity and the extent of its economic significance.

“The ingredients are there to establish the UK as a world-leader, and we will work to ensure that the support and investment is in place to maximise their potential.”

Dr Ian Campbell, Interim Executive Chair of Innovate UK, said:

“This is an exciting time for immersive companies and they are rapidly developing into a significant sector for the UK. The report finds that public funding from Innovate UK and others is a crucial source of finance for immersive companies. This is why the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is so important as a source of R&D funding to help the sustained growth of these companies.”

Sector deals for the creative industries and artificial intelligence are focal points of the government’s Artificial Intelligence Grand Challenge, a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy which sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. The AI Grand Challenge aims to put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution ensuring the vast social and economic benefits of this technology are felt in every corner of Britain.

Immersive companies will have opportunities for R&D funding across the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. For example the the Audience of the Future challenge’s first competitions open today (21st May). This challenge will bring creative businesses, researchers and technologists together to create striking new experiences that are accessible to the public. Up to £33 million will be made available to create the next generation of products, services and experiences that will capture the world’s attention and position the UK as the global leader in immersive technologies.

 

Notes to editors

Immerse UK is a special interest group for immersive technologies set up in 2016 by Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network. It brings together 1,700 leading businesses, researchers, activists, thinkers and investors to position the UK as a global leader in immersive technology.

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. For more information visit www.ukri.org. Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. For further information and to stay updated on our latest news visit www.gov.uk/innovateuk, follow us on Twitter at @innovateuk or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/InnovateUK.

Nesta is a global innovation foundation.  We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills.  We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment.  To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk