UK safety tech boom as providers ‘take quarter of global share’

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The number of dedicated safety tech firms has doubled in the last five years while almost half have an international presence, a report says.

Child using a laptop

At least a quarter of the world’s safety tech providers are estimated to originate from the UK, according to a new research.

More than 70 companies based in cities including London, Leeds, Cambridge and Edinburgh make up 25% of the global market share for safety tech products helping to make the online world safer for people all over the world, an independent report for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) suggests.

The number of dedicated safety tech firms has doubled in the last five years while almost half have an international presence.

Last year, the sector generated £226 million in annual revenues, growing by 35% since 2016, and revenues could exceed £1 billion by 2025.

The report highlights several UK firms, ranging from those who have developed technology used to detect and remove harmful content from social media and online games, online filter makers for schools and fact-checking organisations tackling false information.

“We are all spending more time online during the pandemic and this new report shows the value the safety tech sector could add as we look to power growth out of it,” said Caroline Dinenage, minister for digital and culture.

“Its innovative products, many of which are developed in towns and cities across the country, are being used globally to help companies make their online platforms safer.


“The Government is leading the world developing online harms laws and it’s great to see our brilliant British tech industry is part of the solution.”

The research was carried out by Perspective Economics and the University of East London between September 2019 and March 2020.

Online child abuse material
Organisations that develop systems to automatically detect and remove illegal child sexual abuse material are highlighted as one of the UK technological strengths (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

It predicts that the UK is likely to see its first safety tech unicorn – a company worth more than one billion dollars – landing in the coming years.

“This report highlights how the creativity and passion of the UK tech sector can lead the world with new solutions to tackle online harms,” said Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at NSPCC.

“The emergence of a thriving safety-tech sector is a crucial component of the move towards a duty of care, and to ensure tech firms can offer meaningful protections to children online.”

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