Department for International Trade Launches Future Tech Trade Strategy

The new measures to boost digital trade have been announced today by the International Trade Secretary as a response to industry calls for support for UK tech firms.

The International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, announced today a new international trade strategy for the UK tech industry. The strategy includes a package of interventions to increase UK tech exports and attract international investment into the UK tech sector.

With a number of digital tech subsectors seeing increased demand as a result of Coronavirus – including EdTech, MedTech, FinTech, and cyber security – the strategy aims to open up more export opportunities across these and other technology areas.

Developed in partnership with stakeholders across the industry, the announced package of strategic interventions will seek to increase tech exports to fast-growing international markets, including Asia-Pacific, strengthen scaleups’ market readiness to export, and attract investment to drive innovation and create jobs. Following from the consultations with DIT and our members, we are pleased to see that a number of our asks have been included in the new strategy. 

Among the other measures, the new strategy includes the creation of a new Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific, which will support UK SMEs to break into the Asian market. The plans also include the launch of a new Tech Exporting Academy, which will provide expert advice to UK scaleups on subject areas essential to expansion, including regulation, intellectual property, and compliance. The Academy will be led and delivered in partnership with leading professional services firms. DIT will also launch a new platform to help businesses access trade shows and events virtually to support international buyer-seller meetings.  

The measures are part of a wider programme of support for UK tech to ensure the industry benefits from trade opportunities, including future free trade agreements (FTAs).

Commenting on today’s announcement, Julian David, CEO of techUK, said:

“The tech sector is the UK’s great modern success story. It is relentlessly innovative and resilient. As we chart a new path in the world, we must champion the UK’s competitive strengths in the digital economy both at home and abroad.

The announced package of strategic interventions will create new opportunities for UK tech companies to grow their businesses internationally. techUK supports the launch of the future tech trade strategy for UK tech industry. We look forward to working together with the Government to ensure that all tech businesses can take advantage of opportunities in fast-growing markets overseas.”

The full range of measures announced today include:

  • Launch of an £8m Digital Trade Network (DTN) for Asia Pacific: A joint DIT-DCMS network, to support UK tech businesses to internationalise in this fast-growing region, attract capital and talent to the UK and enhance UK digital economy collaborations internationally. By increasing UK digital tech expertise on the ground across a number of key markets – including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia, government will help innovative UK companies access new trade and investment opportunities, and forge new international partnerships for the digital economy.
  • Creation of a new Tech Exporting Academy: The Academy will provide expert advice for high-potential SMEs to support growth into priority markets. Led by leading professional services firms (including Linklaters, Deloitte, KPMG, BDO, Taylor Wessing, EY and Clifford Chance) UK SMEs will receive expert advice across a wide range of areas including legal, tax, intellectual property, regulatory and compliance to help reduce the time to market for exporting and increase UK exports. The support will ensure that women tech founders are represented on the cohorts of companies for the export academy.
  • A new DIT platform: A new DIT platform will be created to supercharge UK tech engagement on the global stage and mitigate the impact of firms unable to attend international industry events and investor meetings. This will include a greater presence at international industry events and access to virtual trade shows and virtual event platforms to support international buyer-seller meetings and companies-to-investors introductions. The new platform will be launched in September. Virtual trade shows will allow UK businesses to showcase their capabilities and network with overseas businesses and investors. Technology will be at the heart of the government’s new Ready To Trade campaign with specific campaigns on edtech, medtech, cyber, VR, gaming and animation.
  • New Tech Network to Enhance English Regions’ Ability to Grow International Trade Partnerships: This will include the creation of 25 tech export champions across the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine, London and the South. The new network will work with the most promising regional scaleups on their international expansion plans. DIT and DCMS will continue to work closely with colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure high performing tech companies across the whole United Kingdom receive the support they need to expand internationally.
  • An Expansion in Support for DIT’s High Potential Opportunities (HOPs) Tech Programme: The programme will be expanded to drive foreign direct investment (FDI) into emerging subsectors including 5G, Industry 4.0, Photonics and immersive Technology, ensuring the UK remains the most attractive destination for tech investment in Europe post-Coronavirus. Working closely with the Devolved Administrations, LEPs and industry partners, government will seek to promote the full spectrum of UK tech capability to overseas investors and identify emerging growth markets for UK firms.
  • The Launch of a New Fintech Campaign in the UK: The campaign will include UK fintech companies who enable digitization and resilience in priority export markets, to enhance UK tech competitiveness on the global stage after Coronavirus and ensure the UK remains the best place to start, scale and internationalise a fintech business.
  • An Uplift in Outreach and Engagement by UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) Marketing and Communications: The uplift will involve raising awareness of UKEF’s offer among UK tech firms and how UKEF and Trade Finance can help them win and fulfil export contracts.