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The UK’s £20bn GovTech Opportunity

Written by Edward Elliott, Public.io

In 2016, founder of the US GovTech Fund Ron Bouganim referred to GovTech as “a market hiding in plain sight”. A year on, there are signs that GovTech – the elephant in the trading room – may be growing too large to be ignored.

On 30th June, investment firm Public published the ‘State of the UK GovTech Market’, a major new report into the UK’s GovTech opportunity. The study estimates the UK GovTech Market to be worth £20bn by 2025, with the UK having the potential to become a world leader in the market. The research also highlights the current size and diversity of GovTech in Britain with the Public 100 – the most comprehensive list of GovTech companies in the UK compiled to date.

GovTech – for those new to the term – refers to technology that solves public sector challenges. GovTech companies listed in the Public 100 provide services ranging from helping to manage flood protection, to using interactive profiles to help children learn languages.

In the past, the GovTech market has been dominated by large vendors. There is growing evidence, however, to suggest that small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly earning significant and lucrative government contracts. In the 2015 financial year, SMEs made up over 27% of the GovTech market share in the UK – an increase of over 20% from 2011. The ‘State of the UK GovTech Market’ estimates this growth to continue, with SMEs taking up a third of government spending on tech by 2020.

The developments of GovTech have drawn comparisons to fintech, a sector which grew sixfold between 2011 and 2015. ‘State of the UK GovTech Market’ highlights parallels between the two markets in their drivers for growth. Both GovTech and fintech benefit from large citizen demand, a permissive policy environment and ready access to tech skills & financial capital.

The release of the report coincided with the launch of Public’s GovStart programme, a six-month process aiming to help technology startups transform public services. Ten companies have joined GovStart including Ask the Midwife, an online healthcare platform that provides advice on prenatal issues, and Pockit, a bank focused exclusively on the unbanked and financially underserved.

Our CEO and Co-founder of Public Daniel Korski said of GovStart, “we are tremendously excited to launch the first cohort of our GovStart programme. These companies offer smarter, more efficient technology solutions to government, with the potential to deliver significant benefits for both citizens and the state.”

With growth projected and opportunity for new business – as well as overtures from senior government figures, including a reference to “the deployment of new technology” in the public sector in Phillip Hammond’s Mansion House Speech – it is undoubtedly an exciting time for GovTech.

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