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New report explores rapidly expanding UK immersive sector

The study, titled ‘The Immersive Economy in the UK’, is the first of its kind to map the UK immersive sector, which covers technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.

The report was commissioned from the innovation foundation Nesta by Immerse UK, a special interest group for immersive technologies, with funding from Innovate UK.

Other key findings include:

  • 70% of specialist companies surveyed are exporting immersive-related products and services with a particular focus on US markets.
  • Immersive specialist companies have established roots in the creative industries, but many of them are applying their innovative technologies to other sectors such as education and training, architecture, advanced manufacturing and energy.
  • While there is strong immersive activity in London, there are also growing clusters in a number of UK cities including Brighton, Bristol, Newcastle, Liverpool and Belfast.

The publication also features a number of case studies, including an interview with Christopher Freeman, Theme Lead for Digital Manufacturing at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), as well as founding member of the IET’s Applied Visualisation Forum and part of the steering committee. 

“This report quantifies and describes a fast-growing, confident and export-intensive industry that is already adding economic value to the UK,” said Fiona Kilkelly of Immerse UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network. “Its findings provide the insights and intelligence needed to better support the complex needs of this emerging business community. It reveals the richness of its activity and the extent of its economic significance.

“The ingredients are there to establish the UK as a world leader, and we will work to ensure that the support and investment are in place to maximise their potential.”

Sector deals for the creative industries and artificial intelligence are focal points of the Artificial Intelligence Grand Challenge, a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. The AI Grand Challenge aims to put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution ensuring the vast social and economic benefits of this technology are felt in every corner of Britain.

Immersive companies will have opportunities for R&D funding across the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Up to £33 million will be made available to create the next generation of products, services and experiences that will capture the world’s attention and position the UK as the global leader in immersive technologies.

“The UK is home to the world-leading tech sector and creative industries and in recent years we have seen them come together to develop innovative technology of tomorrow, but we cannot be complacent,” commented Digital and the Creative Industries Minister Margot James. “This is why we are investing £33 million in immersive technology products, services and experiences as part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal as we build a Britain fit for the future.”

The full report is available to download from the Immerse UK website.


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