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by Jenni Davidson
02 June 2021
Safety tech one of the fastest growing parts of the UK tech industry

Child using a computer - Image credit: Adobe Stock Images

Safety tech one of the fastest growing parts of the UK tech industry

Safety tech is one of the fastest growing parts of the UK’s tech industry, according to new research.

The independent report, 'The UK Safety Tech Sector: 2021 Analysis', commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), found that revenues in safety tech have increased by more than 40 per cent in the past year, reaching £314m.

The UK’s safety tech sector has seen overall growth of 43 per cent, with the number of safety tech companies surpassing 100, and there has been a 30 per cent increase in jobs, equating to more than 500 new roles.  

Safety tech provides products and services that make the online space safer.

This includes products such as AI programmes that can block illegal content, identify underage users, disrupt the spread of harmful disinformation and help moderators detect abuse. 

Many leading global brands, including the LEGO Group, Electronic Arts and Roblox, use safety tech products to protect their users.

UK companies make up a quarter of the international market and more than half of UK safety tech companies export to international markets.

More than half (58 per cent) of all UK safety tech jobs are based outside London, with a high-performing hub developing in Edinburgh.

Scottish businesses in the sector include Cyan, a company which finds and blocks harmful content online; DragonflAI, which has developed innovative technology to stop the production of indecent underage imagery; and Jess, which provides training to help keep children and vulnerable adults safe online.

Last year saw the launch of the Online Safety Tech Industry Association (OSTIA) and of an innovation network designed to help companies share best practice.

The UK also hosted Safety Tech 2021, a world-first expo event to showcase 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.

The UK Government also recently published its draft Online Safety Bill, which gives online companies a new legal duty of care to protect their users, particularly children, from harm.

Products being delivered by UK safety tech providers can help companies meet their new duties under the bill.

UK Government 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.”

UK Government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “It’s fantastic to see Scotland's safety tech industry thriving with the expansion of this Edinburgh hub.

“As well as contributing to economic growth and creating jobs, this sector is providing a vital service to protect us all from harm online – blocking illegal content and detecting social media abuse.

 “The UK is a global leader in safety tech, and the UK Government’s new Online Safety Bill will further ensure that the web is a safer place for people in Scotland and across the whole country.”

Ian Stevenson, CEO of Cyan and chair of the Online Safety Technology Industry Association (OSTIA), 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.”

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - The Holyrood baby: More likely to live in poverty now than the day she was born

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