As we’ve noted before, reports on the direction of the immersive technology sector are not all that uncommon. A combination of factors including there being numerous marketing agencies, a generous number of market locations and a variety of definitions. However, these are primarily directed towards the future and the declare how current trends and past figures show how that future is evolving. Forecasts are forecasts, though and always need to be considered such.
It is therefore somewhat rarer to find reports have been commissioned that somewhat focus on the here and now and rarer still for them specifically to focus on a specific country other than the U.S. But, hot on the heels of last week’s story about the developments in the UK virtual reality (VR) job market and how in the last 24 month over 10,000 roles have been posted that relate to either VR or augmented reality (AR). A new report commissioned from innovation foundation Nesta by special interest group Immerse UK and funded by Innovate UK has found there’s now over 1000 specialist immersive technology firms now across the UK.
“The UK is home to 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.” Explains 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.”
Key findings from the report include:
- There are around 1,000 immersive specialist companies in the UK employing 4,500 people and generating some £660 million (GBP) in sales, potentially representing as much as 9% of the global market share.
- Based on what is currently being shown, if the UK market keeps pace with global growth forecasts, this turnover could reach £1 Billion (GBP) by the end of this year.
- 70% of the 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. Including education and training, architecture, advanced manufacturing and energy.
- As you would expect London is particularly strong in terms of activity related to the immersive sector, but the report notes growing tech clusters in Brighton (home to the likes of Virtual Umbrella and Make[REAL]), Bristol, Newcastle (home of the CCP Games studio responsible for EVE: Valkyrie and now owned by Sheffield’s Sumo Digital) , Liverpool and Northern Ireland capital Belfast is also named as a growing area. Companies such as REWIND (based in St Albans) and Oxford Medical Simulation are also namechecked.
You can find out more about the report here.
“This report quantifies and describes a fast-growing, confident and export intensive industry that is already adding economy value to the UK. 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.” Says Immerse UK’s Fiona Kilkelly. “The ingredients are there to establish the UK as a world-leader, and we will work to ensure that the support and investment is in place to maximise their potential.”
Dr Ian Campbell, Interim Executive Chair of Innovate UK added that, This is an exciting time for immersive companies and they are rapidly developing into a significant sector for the UK. The report finds that public funding from Innovate UK and others is a crucial source of finance for immersive companies. This is why the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is so important as a source of R&D funding to help the sustained growth of these companies.”
Being a UK-based company ourselves (VRFocus Ltd.), this is excellent news and VRFocus will bring you more news on how the industry at large is developing not just in the UK but around the world very soon.