The UK is now a worldwide hub for socially responsible tech innovation, with so-called "tech for good" firms which are tackling challenges in healthcare, education, finance and sustainability worth more than £2.3 billion in 2018. So says a new analysis from digital tech entrepreneurs network Tech Nation, which shows that with a turnover of £732 million, the sector is now larger than the UK’s consumer electronics goods manufacturing industry (£634 million).
For-profit companies in the sector have raised over £1 billion in venture capital funding to date, with many pursuing both financial and social returns, using sustainable models that create employment and economic growth, as well as a host of positive societal impacts.
The report cites the example of DeepMind, the London-based AI company bought by Google in 2014, which has ambitions to tackle some of the world’s thorniest social and political problems, from healthcare to climate change.
Other successful for-profit businesses include Bulb, a green, renewable electricity supplier; Sweatcoin, which encourages exercise by paying users according to the number of steps they take; and Elder, a service that helps people find and manage live-in care.
Tech Nation board member Sarah Wood, who is co-founder and chair of Unruly, said: "At a time of uncertainty and flux, the UK is poised to lead the world in applying technology for strategic social ends.
“Our nation’s social safety net, coupled with a lively non-profit sector and bustling tech ecosystem, allow for a concentration of energy and talent that’s second-to-none.
“We have all the foundational pillars we need to be the global hub for tech-for-good; now we need to keep up the momentum and make sure we nurture these businesses as they expand their horizons beyond our shores.”