11 Mar 2024

techUK Report - Seven Tech Priorities for the next Government

techUK is excited to announce its latest report, Seven Tech Priorities for Government, supported by polling from Public First.



In June 2023, techUK published our UK Tech Plan. The Plan set out a range of opportunities that the next Government could seize by working with the tech sector to confront the challenges our country faces.

Since the Tech Plan was published, and as the applications of technologies such as AI have become more widely recognised, politicians are increasingly turning towards technology and innovation to boost economic growth and help overcome challenges in the public sector such as health, education, justice, and the drive for net zero.

Example: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP has set an aim to position the UK as the next Silicon Valley with the Government enacting reforms to create a regulatory and funding environment designed to support the growth of technologies with a high potential in the UK for example AI and bio technologies. 
Example: Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting MP has regularly talked about the need for reform of the NHS to improve the use of technology. Highlighting that 80% of NHS Trusts are still using pagers and that a report by Progressive Policy Research shows that automation could save the NHS up to £12.5 billion in staff time.  


However, with an election on the horizon, tech business leaders will want our politicians to set out the detail of how they will remove the barriers to the ambitions of tech sector leaders and take action to address the threats to their success, enabling the full benefits of technological innovation for the UK.  

How Technological Innovation is Already Helping the UK

  1. Caring for an ageing population: Virtual wards are making it easier to care for people in the community, saving the health system up to £2,000 per patient per annum. Additionally, more than four in five NHS workers believe greater investment in technology can help to attract people into the NHS.
  2. Growing the economy: Generative AI is already helping boost productivity, with a recent survey showing it can increase productivity by up to 14%, with more junior workers benefiting the most, as staff reclaim time to train and upskill.  
  3. Reducing the cost of public services: Digital IDs are reducing the cost of and accelerating delivery of public services, with people in Scotland for example no longer having to travel into council buildings to verify their identity for a range of services, saving both the public and local authorities time and money. 
  4. Driving forward the net zero transition: Internet of things and Artifical Intelligence technologies are already making energy and carbon savings. 62% of manufactures who have adopted digital technologies reported savings of between £10,000-£100,000 on their balance sheets over the past 12 months.


How is the UK tech sector feeling ahead of an election? 

In February 2024, techUK and Public First surveyed 250 leaders from the wider tech sector. They told us that the UK has built a competitive business environment that is comparatively easy to operate in, supported by strong demand for tech products and services as well as positive ecosystem effects. 

However, businesses are concerned about the costs of doing business in the UK. High energy costs, the current level of business taxes, the impact of interest rates and regulatory burdens are all cited as challenges to growth. Additionally, existing structural barriers that we identified in our Tech Plan, such as access to procurement contracts and the lagging digitisation of the UK economy, remain. 

Despite these barriers, there is an enormous growth opportunity for the UK. The tech leaders we surveyed said their number one ambition over the next five years was to grow their business, while over three quarters said they had plans or were likely to consider expanding their business internationally.


Removing the barriers to growth and enabling technological innovation and deployment in the UK   



Building on the work of our UK Tech Plan, techUK worked with our members to identify the major barriers to technological innovation and deployment in the UK.

These barriers cut across the economy and present the obstacles to the growth of the tech sector that was picked in our polling.

To overcome these barriers techUK has suggested seven priority actions that the next Government could take early in a new Parliament after the election.

In setting out these recommendations we worked with our members to ensure they are practical, that we show a clear path to implementation and build on what we know is already working, as well as setting out new ideas.

Below we summarise these seven priority actions, as well as our polling with Public First.

You can also download our full report here, as well as access the full tables of our poll here and Headline Findings here.  

Summary: Seven Tech Priorities for the Next Government


An updated AI Strategy and incentives for vital capital investment  

By updating our AI Strategy for the mid 2020s with a focus on deployment and the uptake of AI technology, classifying strategic digital infrastructure as nationally significant and extending the R&D tax credit to cover capital incentives. The Government can better signal and coordinate the UK’s AI ambitions, fast track the delivery of key infrastructure to keep us competitive while reducing business taxes for those who invest in physical capital for R&D.  


Remove barriers to the digitisation of our public services  

Through a new Technology Procurement Delivery Body the Government can fulfil the aims of the Procurement Act and drive best practice across how Government buys new digital services. Citizens Health Accounts and a new VPAS system for digital health tech can encourage interoperability of the NHS, give patients more choice and power over their healthcare as well as a platform and funding mechanism for our health tech industry.  


Open the opportunities of the digital economy to everyone  

A digital skills toolkit, a comprehensive plan for digital adoption by 2030 and a network of Connected Hubs will help bring the benefits of the tech sector to hard-to-reach communities and underrepresented groups. Additionally, these measures will create new tools and infrastructure, helping spread the opportunities of the tech sector to everyone.  


Leverage new technology to keep us safe online and tackle fraud  

By creating an Online Safety Sandbox and package of legislation and guidance to create parity between digital and physical IDs the next Government can help deliver new digital tools to improve online safety, tackle disinformation and reduce fraud.    


A new regulatory model that recognises the strategic economic importance of our regulators   

A pro-growth framework for our regulators and a Commercialisation of Tech Taskforce will help secure a new balance in how our economy works ensuring, that alongside protecting consumers, regulators must also seek to shepard key parts of the economy into the future.  


Help UK tech companies scale across the country  

Building on work already started by DSIT, continuing the UK’s Scale-up sprint, taking a rapid test and learn approach to policy interventions will help identify new finance options, secure access to talent and open up new technology markets, creating opportunities for tech businesses to scale across the UK.  


A new approach to trade and technology in a more fractious world  

By prioritising Digital Economy Agreements and new Tech Bridges the UK can create a flexible and impactful trade policy, in a more fractious and complex global trading environment.  



Seven Tech Priorities at the Tech Policy Leadership Conference 

Ahead of an expected General Election techUK ran the third in our series of policy leadership conferences titled, How can the next Government use technology to build a better Britain? The topics discussed were based off of the seven tech priorities document, which was launched at the conference. Speaking on these topics were a variety of expert speakers, industry insiders, as well as key members of the government and shadow cabinet.

Summary of techUK and Public First Polling

Doing business in the UK: 

The UK does well against its peers on ease of doing business: when it came to the ease of doing business, only 22% of tech sector leaders felt that it would be easier to do business in other comparable countries in Europe or North America. 38% felt it was neither easier or harder and 36% felt it was easier or much easier to do business in the UK than in comparable countries.  

When we asked our leaders to rank the UK out of 10 for ease of doing business, with 1 being very difficult and 10 being very easy, 70% gave the UK a score over five. Around a quarter of businesses (24%) gave the UK as score of 9 or 10 out of 10.  

Why the UK is a good place to do business: access to a reliable customer base for their products and services (41%), the ecosystem and ability to work with other tech companies (33%), access to a skilled workforce (33%), digital infrastructure (32%) and the R&D environment (32%) were cited as the top five most common benefits for operating in the UK. When pushed to pick what was the most significant benefit, access to a reliable customer base (22%) and the ability to work with other tech companies (22%) were the top two.  

Growth, growth, growth: over the next five years the top ambition for our leaders was to grow their businesses (45%). Onboarding new technologies (30%) and expanding the businesses capabilities, products or services (30%) followed to make up the top three ambitions of the group.  

Concerns over the cost of doing business: however, standing in the way of their growth ambitions, our tech sector leaders said energy costs (36%), the current level of tax on business (33%) and interests rates (31%) were the top barriers they faced to reaching their ambitions.  

When asked to pick the most significant weakness of the UK’s business environment energy costs, the level of business taxes and the amount of regulation were the top three selected.  

Outside of London, Manchester is seen as the UK’s strongest tech city: when asked to pick a city outside of London that they felt provided a positive environment for tech businesses 58% of those polled chose Manchester. Birmingham (33%) and Cambridge (31%) were the second and third most commonly chosen answers.  

A globally minded sector: our tech sector leaders have their sights set on the rest of the world. 77% said they were likely to or already had plans to expand into a foreign market. This was high for both small and large businesses surveyed. While they planned to expand into a range of markets, expansion to the United States was their top preferred destination.  


New technologies: 

Artificial intelligence is seen as a game changer: when asked which emerging technology held the greatest promise for their business Artificial Intelligence was top. However, general AI tools rather than generative AI technologies were seen as the bigger opportunity. 38% of respondents chose AI excluding generative AI as most likely to provide the greatest opportunity versus 15% who selected generative AI e.g. Large Language Models and image generators. 

New technologies were seen to provide a wealth of opportunity: adopting new technologies was seen to have a wide range of benefits such as improving productivity (54%), reaching new customers (50%), growing revenue (47%), becoming more competitive (46%) and developing new products (42%).  

Motivation and cost: our tech sector leaders said they were motivated to adopt new technology to remain competitive (42%), grow their revenue (40%) and remain innovative (38%). However, energy costs (34%), software costs (25%) and needing a skilled workforce (25%) were seen as the biggest barriers to technology adoption.  

However, getting current technology right should not be overlooked: despite being asked about a range of emerging technologies our tech sector leaders picked high speed internet connectivity (31%) and cloud computing (30%) as second and third when thinking about opportunities.   


The next Government:  

Protecting them from threats: we asked our tech sector leaders which external risks they felt the next Government should address to support their businesses. Reducing energy costs (36%), tackling the high and rising cost of living (33%) and addressing cyber security vulnerabilities at a national level (21%) were the top answers.  

Helping seize opportunities: when asked what choices the next Government could make to help our business leaders meet their ambitions, cutting business taxes (34%), increasing access to finance and investment (26%) and better enabling the use of emerging technologies, such as AI (25%) came out as the top three answers.  

In your words what should the next Government do: we gave our tech sector leaders the chance to say in their own words, what would be the single most important thing the next Government could do to support their business. Responses included:  


“Invest in research and development” –founder of a microbusiness 

“Simplify regulatory processes to reduce compliance costs… enabling businesses to focus more on innovation and growth.” – from a C-Level Executive, Global Multinational 

“Address skills shortages.” - Senior Manager, Large Business 

“Bring down the price of electricity and gas.” - Founder, Microenterprise 

“Invest in digital infrastructure, and foster a supportive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.” - Director, Global Multinational 


The UK has strong foundations to build on, with a very competitive business environment for tech. But to achieve the economic growth which the whole economy needs, we must keep raising the ambition. By removing unnecessary barriers to innovation and putting in place the reforms and investment needed, we can bolster our innovation ecosystem right across the UK, supporting a stronger economy and better public services. This is the UK tech sector saying firmly that it wants to work with the next government to tackle the biggest, long-term challenges we face. These seven actions present some practical steps forward that we can – and need to – take towards the future we need.

Julian David

CEO, techUK

Neil Ross

Neil Ross

Associate Director, Policy, techUK

Archie Breare

Archie Breare

Public Affairs Manager, techUK

Oliver Alderson

Oliver Alderson

Policy and Public Affairs - Team Assistant, techUK

Julian David

Julian David

CEO, techUK


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