Government pioneers £10m fund for regulators that target public sector innovation

The fund will back projects that ensure rules and regulations keep pace with technological advances

Department for Business, energy and Industrial Strategy sign

The UK government has awarded 10 million to UK regulators in a bid to drive innovation in the public sector and accelerate new technologies.

As part of its industrial strategy, 'The Regulators Pioneer Fund' will support bodies to create a regulatory environment that gives innovative businesses more chance to invest, innovate and deploy emerging technologies for the benefit of the wider economy.

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Business Secretary Greg Clark announced 15 unique projects would receive a share of the funding and highlighted that the projects will ensure regulatory systems keep pace with advancing technologies.

"The UK's regulatory environment is recognised as being among the best in the world and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are building a business environment in which Britain's dreamers, developers and disruptors can continue to thrive," said Clark.

"These projects will further strengthen our regulatory system and ensure that it keeps pace with the innovation and technological advances needed to power our economy now and in the future."

Some of the winning projects included nearly 700,000 to regulator Ofcom for a project that uses blockchain technology to improve UK telephone number management. The Solicitors Regulation Authority also received nearly 700,000 to support business innovations that will use AI to transform the legal services market for small businesses. And up to 1 million of funding has gone to the Civil Aviation Authority to support a project that includes a 'regulatory lab' which will look to unblock legislative and regulatory barriers to innovations like flying taxis.

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Also included was the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which has been awarded funding to provide data privacy expertise to other UK regulators. It will be tasked with ensuring the rules and regulations keep pace with technologies of the future.

To that end, a grant of 537,000 will be used by the ICO to establish a 'Regulators Business, energy and Industrial Strategy and Privacy Innovation Hub' later this month. The hub will work in partnership with other regulators to provide expert support to businesses in information privacy and data protection.

"Privacy and innovation go hand in hand," said Chris Taylor, an ICO head of assurance. "The hub will reflect the ICO's own enhanced focus on innovation and desire to support business innovation and ultimately help us achieve our fundamental strategic goal which is to increase the public's trust and confidence in how their personal data is used.

"Data protection by design has been around for a long time, and although it's now the law, it is not a barrier to innovation."

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