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May 24, 2016

Denmark and Sweden beat UK in EU digital race

News: European Commission report puts UK in sixth as it lags in digital growth.

By Alexander Sword

The UK is the sixth most digitally advanced country in the EU, according to new research, with its digital integration and use of digital in public services lagging.

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report by the European Commission assessed EU countries over five main parameters, finding that the UK was performing well in areas such as mobile and fixed broadband take-up, ranking sixth overall in terms of connectivity.

In addition, the UK came third overall in terms of human capital, coming fifth in terms of internet literacy and sixth in terms of ICT specialists and basic digital skills. The UK was the highest ranked EU country in terms of STEM graduates per population and came eighth in overall use of internet services.

However, the UK’s rank overall was dragged down by poor performances in integration of digital technology, where it came 15th, and digital public services, where it came 16th.

"A true digital economy is one where businesses take full advantage of the possibilities and benefits offered by digital technologies, both to improve their efficiency and productivity, as well as to reach customers and realise sales," the report said. "Businesses in the United Kingdom are not fully taking advantage of these possibilities."

The report found that online service completion, the sophistication of provisioned services and the availability of pre-filled forms were very poor. However, the UK was top of the EU ranking for Open Data.

"Modern public services offered online in an efficient manner are a vehicle for efficiency gains for enterprises, citizens, and the public administration itself."

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Ahead of the UK overall in terms of their digital advancement were Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium.

All of these countries apart from the Netherlands were placed in the "lagging ahead" category, as was the UK, which meant that they were ahead of the UK average but had seen slower growth than the average.

The European Commission figures also revealed that the UK is one of the largest beneficiaries of funding from Horizon 2020, a project that awards funding to innovative research projects.

Since its launch in 2014, Horizon 2020 has allocated €2.4 billion of Union funding to 850 projects in the field of ICT, attracting interest from 3,312 organisations.

Germany and the UK were the biggest recipients of funding in absolute terms, in that order. The UK has received €2.1bn from Horizon 2020 since the launch of this programme in 2014 (it runs till 2020) and €7bn under the Framework Programme & (FP7), the predecessor research funding programme

Greece and Slovenia were the countries that received the highest funding in relation to the size of their IT sector.

The report summarised data mostly collected in 2015.

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