finance

Scottish companies thrive as UK safety tech sector booms



Tech companies across the UK dedicated to making the internet a safer place have seen revenues soar in the last year.

With more people than ever before going online during the pandemic, new research shows the safety tech sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the UK’s tech industry.

Revenues have increased more than 40% in the past year – reaching £314m – and there has been a 30% increase in jobs, equating to more than 500 new roles.

More than half (58%) of all UK safety tech jobs are based outside London, with a high-performing hub developing in Edinburgh, according to an independent report commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Scottish companies include Cyan, which finds and blocks harmful content online; DragonflAI, which has developed technology to prohibit production of indecent underage imagery; and Jess, which provides training to help keep children and vulnerable adults safe online.

The UK’s safety tech sector has seen overall growth of 43%, with the number of safety tech companies surpassing 100.

Last year, UK Government ministers committed to developing the safety tech sector and recently published the draft Online Safety Bill to give online companies a new legal duty of care to protect their users, particularly children, from harm.

UK safety tech providers are now delivering innovative products that can help companies meet their new duties under the Bill.

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.

“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, chair of the Online Safety Technology Industry Association (OSTIA) and chief executive of Cyan, added: “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 sector saw the launch of OSTIA last year and of an innovation network designed to help companies share best practice.

In March this year, G7 countries announced a commitment to supporting safety tech growth and innovation as part of the Internet Safety Principles.

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