Minister hails ‘stellar growth’ of safety tech sector

Companies dedicated to making the internet a safer place have seen revenues soar in the last year.

A new report from DCMS, The UK Safety Tech Sector: 2021 Analysis identifies the safety tech sector as one of the fastest growing parts of the UK’s tech industry, with a 40% increase in revenues in the past year, reaching £314 million.

Launching the report, Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage, said: “The stellar growth we’ve seen shows how the UK is at the forefront of using technology to solve problems around how online companies protect their users.

“Through our ground-breaking new laws, and with our safety tech sector going from strength to strength, we are paving the way for people to have a better relationship with the online world.”

The report also contains good news for sector employment, with a 30% increase in jobs within the sector during the year, equating to more than 500 new roles. More than half (58%) of all safety tech jobs are based outside London, with high-performing hubs developing in tech savvy cities including Leeds, Cambridge and Edinburgh. 

The number of companies within the sector has grown by 43% in the past year, with the number of safety tech companies surpassing 100.

The UK’s safety tech companies make up a quarter of the international market and their reach is global – more than half of UK safety tech companies export to international markets.

The launch of the report was welcomed by sector stakeholders. 

Andy Burrows, NSPCC’s Head of Child Safety Online Policy, said: “This growth of the safety tech sector is a great opportunity for the UK to build a position as one of the leading centres of expertise on online harms, and in turn, to keep children safe from abuse.

“Safety tech is so exciting because it delivers innovative new solutions to online harms. It’s a crucial part of supporting companies large and small to meet their upcoming requirements under the Duty of Care regulatory regime.”

Ian Stevenson, Chair of the Online Safety Technology Industry Association (OSTIA) and CEO of Cyan, added: “The report highlights that the UK Safety Tech sector is thriving. As the threat grows, innovators and determined tech creators are finding new ways to support organisations in their efforts to better protect children online, identify abuse and flag harmful content. The UK is already well ahead in the global safety tech sector.

“At a time where the exponential growth of technology is seen as a problem, the UK safety tech sector provides solutions to limit online harm at pace and encourages more talented individuals to join the sector as they know that their work will effect change, benefiting and protecting countless people.”

The report comes at the end of a highly successful year for safety tech, in which:

  • Membership of OSTIA has increased by 62% – more than a third of all UK safety tech businesses are now OSTIA members;
  • The Safety Tech Innovation Network was launched to  help companies share best practice – the network now has 589 members and approximately 4,300 monthly visitors;
  • The UK hosted Safety Tech 2021, a world-first expo that showcased how technology can be used to support safer online communities; 
  • In March 2021, G7 countries announced a commitment to supporting safety tech growth and innovation as part of the Internet Safety Principles.

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