United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Information and Communication Technology

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-11


The UK is the largest ICT market in Europe, offering major opportunities in cybersecurity, 5G/telecoms, AI, and SaaS/cloud. Most UK enterprises realize the value of investing in ICT to accelerate their productivity and growth.

$210 billion digital tech annual turnover

Over 100,000 software companies in market

Second largest ICT markets in ranking of ICT spending per head (U.S. #1)

London is the second most connected place for tech, right after Silicon Valley

No. 1 top scaling tech nation in Europe

No. 1 destination for U.S. ICT businesses in Europe (often serving as EMEA HQ)

UK tech VC investment is third in the world (after U.S and China), and more than any other European country (more than France and Germany combined)

Leading Sub-Sectors


The rapid development of digitalized services has been accompanied by significant growth in cybercrime, leading to greater spending on security in both public and private sectors and driving demand for more sophisticated and bespoke cyber solutions.


5G has begun rolling out across the UK thanks to strong commitment and investment from both the UK government and the UK network operators.

Projects funded include urban and rural connected communities, IOT, augmented and virtual reality, transport infrastructure, enhanced manufacturing, 5G security, and many more. The UK government’s significant funding to the program is being matched by private companies and network operators (there are 4 UK’s core networks: EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone).

Software, SaaS, and Cloud Services

About 100,000 software companies operate in the UK, including major U.S. firms such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP. The UK datacenter market is the largest in Europe, generating new sources of demand for ICT providers.

The rising tide of software as a service has created an industry of products and services that require subscription-like recurring payments. The mindset of UK consumers has shifted from one-off purchases to active, recurrent purchases by many customers.

Additionally, the vast majority of UK enterprises rely on the mobile connectivity of its workforce, which is an ideal setting for SaaS and cloud providers.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The UK is committed to creating an economy that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, providing great opportunities to U.S. tech companies. The UK has one of the strongest AI strategies in the world, with strong government funding for AI, strong research activity in the field, strong VC funding and AI startups, and strong enterprise activity and adoption of AI.


Opportunities exist to supply organizations of all sizes from SMEs to large corporations, with the most substantial opportunities found in organizations for which IT security is mission critical, e.g., major financial institutions, utilities, and especially government departments (including the Home Office, Ministry of Defense, Immigration and Border Protection, Revenue and Customs etc.).

Large Enterprises: The bulk of the ICT market is orientated around large commercial enterprises. Financial services, utilities and transportation companies are large spenders.

Public Sector: Central and local governments are investing heavily in ICT and data as they implement their digital transformation agenda to move more and more services online.

Defense and Security (D&S): The D&S market is relatively niche and is focused on securing the nation’s secrets, involving the security and intelligence agencies as well as the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Small and Medium-sized Businesses: While most large enterprises in the UK have already implemented adequate tech tools, small, and medium-sized enterprises have also started to direct their attention towards digital tools to optimize their processes.

Cybersecurity is the one of the most active ICT subsectors in the market, with U.S. cyber companies and technologies very well perceived in the UK. The impact of cybercrime is difficult to quantify but is estimated to cost the UK roughly up to $30 billion per year. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reports around 60 ‘high-level’ cyber-attacks against the UK per month, many of which threaten national security. Additionally, organizations’ IT footprints are becoming increasingly complex, driving demand for more sophisticated and customized cyber solutions.

With regard to 5G, the UK government announced a ban on new Huawei equipment from the end of 2020, and all existing Huawei equipment will be stripped from 5G networks by 2027. U.S. sanctions introduced in May 2020 led UK security officials to conclude they could no longer assure the security of Huawei products. The exclusion of Huawei is creating additional opportunities for U.S. tech providers to supply services to UK operators.

Cloud computing offers significant growth opportunities: almost all software companies in the UK are using cloud, and opportunities exist in both the public and private sectors for companies offering cloud or linked services. The UK government strongly supported the adoption of cloud technologies, with G-Cloud frameworks allowing the government to buy directly from suppliers after reaching an agreement on basic terms of use.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning also present substantial prospects, with the UK being home to some of the biggest names in the business such as DeepMind, SwiftKey and Babylon. The UK has recognized AI as a huge opportunity. Indeed, the UK government’s Industrial Strategy white paper identified AI and Data as one of four Grand Challenges (together with the Future of Mobility, Clean Growth, and Ageing Society). The UK government AI Sector Deal outlines a package of over $1.3 billion in support for the sector. This support complements and leverages some of the $2.4 billion announced under the cross-sectoral Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund so far. In addition to public funding, industry is also providing funding for AI solutions across key sectors: services, life sciences, agriculture, and the public sector. Global AI powerhouses that have invested significantly in developing the UK AI market include Google (which owns DeepMind), Microsoft (which owns SwiftKey), AWS, HPE, Beyond Limits and many more.


Industry Events

  • Infosecurity Europe; June 22-24, 2023, London

Trade Associations

  • techUK
  • Digital Catapult

Government Departments

  • National Cyber Security Centre
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

For further information, please contact:

Claudia Colombo

Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service

Tel: +44 (0)20 7891 3443