Information and communication technology

Key features

  • ICT is fundamental to almost every part of modern life and business

  • The UK ICT sector includes over 116,000 companies

  • ICT enables process, product and service innovation across all sectors

Information and communication technology
The UK ICT sector includes more than 116,000 companies with revenues of more than £137bn in 2010 and contributes £66m GVA. 
Our ICT programme seeks to stimulate innovation in software-intensive technologies, processes and systems. It has close connections with the electronics, sensors and photonics programme, which focuses on the hardware aspects of computing, and it underpins the digital programme, which focuses on the business challenges of ICT application in specific sectors.



The barriers to entry for software development are relatively low. This presents a challenge to the maintenance of engineering quality and means that software may not be fit-for-purpose.  
The people who can realise the value of data and software are often not involved in the ICT development process and therefore are not always served well by current tools which may be over-engineered and/or unsympathetic to the needs, preferences and values of the user.
In addition, advances in computer hardware, such as multi-core processing, are not being matched sufficiently by advances in software.



We see business opportunities in big data exploration, simpler user experiences, increased confidence in cloud systems, and advanced software engineering.
We will invest in ICT innovation through technology-inspired competitions as well as through sector-specific challenge programmes where there are specific ICT-related needs. 


Our priorities

Big data exploration
  • Designing data exploration systems for non-ICT specialists across different sectors, perhaps exploiting simpler user interfaces (below)
  • Automated and intelligent data cleansing and semantic annotation
  • Exploring various types of data across application areas or sectors
  • Reducing the cost of high-fidelity visualisation
Simpler user experiences
  • ‘Beyond the screen' – moving from traditional keyboard, mouse, and screen to more immersive interaction with machines (for example haptics, speech, gesture, emotion-sensing)
  • Improving the user experience of imminent pervasive computing
  • Changing the software paradigm for existing applications
  • Fulfilling the changing expectations of users
  • How multiple co-operating devices can present a joined-up, quality experience for the user
Confidence in deploying cloud systems
  • Interoperability
  • Data resilience, tracking and storage
  • Identity assurance
Advanced, modern software engineering
  • Better tools and languages to support new approaches such as inherent parallelism and design of novel user interface paradigms
  • Holistic design methods that focus on autonomous / intelligent / machine learning systems where machines rather than people are making complex and less deterministic decisions
  • Ways of supporting organisations that can better prepare the UK's talent base for the future ICT industry
For further information visit:

Enabling technologies action plan 2013-14

Enabling technologies action plan 2013-14

Read the Enabling technologies action plan for 2013-14, as taken from our Delivery Plan 2013-14 (as at May 2013). 


Enabling technologies - strategy 2012-15