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Immersive technologies in the UK - latest services and developments, research and funding priorities, economic potential, and regulatory and ethical issues

April 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on next steps for the development of immersive technologies.


The discussion takes place with immersive tech regarded by industry and policymakers as set to have a major impact on the shape of entertainment and gaming, education and training, medicine, the emergency services, and a range of wider sectors and services.


The agenda will bring out latest thinking in areas including:


  • research, emerging uses and their implications for sectors and the wider economy
  • priorities for funding, collaboration and what is needed to support the pace of innovation
  • issues around data, ethical issues and regulation
  • how the UK can realise the economic, cultural and social benefits of VR, AR, MR and haptic technology

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; the Cabinet Office; the CMA; the DCMS; DIT; Department for The Economy, NI; the DfT; GCHQ; HMRC; the Home Office; the IPO; the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; the MOD; Ofcom; the UK Space Agency; and the Welsh Government.


The agenda


  • Developing the UK’s immersive technologies sector - progress so far and next steps for supporting innovation
  • Taking forward immersive technology in the UK
    • Research and development in immersive technology in the UK - collaboration between universities and industry, and international partnerships
    • Funding and supporting emerging projects, and encouraging widespread uptake
  • Addressing key issues around data, and wider ethical and regulatory implications of the latest developments in immersive technologies
  • How can the UK realise the economic, cultural and social benefits of VR, AR, MR and haptic technology

Key areas for discussion:


  • research and innovation - next steps and priorities for support, looking at:
    • the role of Digital Catapult - as well as tapping into the work of the Augmentor acceleration programme and Immersive Labs
    • UK competitive advantage - how best to build on strong research systems and established collaboration between the public sector, academia, and industry
    • international collaboration - the outlook for the future in the context of the end of the transition period, and the UK’s role in the international market
    • skills - next steps for developing the skills and training programmes required to support sector growth, and strategies for better working with education providers
  • funding - assessing the evolving landscape:
    • assessing potential impact - examining new funding provision, such as from UKRI, and how it can best support innovation in the sector
    • funding distribution - how best to ensure financial support is spread effectively across the sector, as well as priorities for supporting start-ups and small businesses
    • investor relationships - making the sector attractive for investment and financing, and helping to connect businesses with prospective funding sources 
  • connectivity - supporting the development of national infrastructure, such as 5G and consistent broadband, to enable sector growth 
  • commercialisation - developing use cases and workable applications across diverse sectors, as well as tackling remaining technical and practical barriers to adoption and commercialisation, including:
    • video games and the arts - assessing the changing market and how immersive products and marketing are adapting to the impact of the pandemic
    • innovation and new opportunities - evolving the immersive tech offering, and its role in improving education and wellbeing
    • profile raising - what more can be done to demonstrate practical applications and possible use cases to support rollout
    • societal contribution - including the role of immersive tech in education and improving wellbeing, and in supporting economic recovery 
  • driving growth - what more might be required from policymakers, research bodies, and businesses to support the sector and the UK’s international competitiveness going forward
  • ethical and regulatory issues - how to address potential concerns around data use and protection arising from the widespread utilisation of immersive technologies, including personalised advertising, and how industry practice, regulation, and policy may need to respond

Relevant developments:


  • Beyond the early adopter: widening the appeal for virtual reality - the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre (PEC) outlining key principles for overcoming barriers to the adoption of immersive technology in the cultural industries
  • Government response to the DCMS Select Committee Report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies - with commitments on research, online safety, esports, disinformation and diversity
  • the Digital Catapult’s ongoing work on immersive technology - including its Augmentor acceleration programme supporting start-ups, Immersive Arcade showcasing UK innovation, and promulgating latest research and best practice, including in light of COVID-19, through its Immersive Audience Journey report
  • £29m government funding to boost digital revolution and help keep people safe online - announcing support through UKRI, including testing how immersive technology can improve education, following previous funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
  • Supporting the UK’s Wireless Future - Ofcom’s consultation on plans to manage the use of the radio spectrum over the next decade in order to meet challenges, including those arising from connected devices and new applications - including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) - driving demand for faster, more reliable, and lower or more consistent latency Wi-Fi
  • AI Roadmap - the AI Council’s independent report calling on the Government to establish a UK national strategy and to scale up investment
  • Virtual reality: pandemic leads to rise in headset sales to escape lockdown - reported by The Times to be up by 350%

Policy officials attending:


Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children's Media and the Arts, and officials from BEIS; the Cabinet Office; the Competition and Markets Authority; the DCMS; the Department for International Trade; the Department for the Economy, NI; the Department for Transport; GCHQ; the Geospatial Commission; HM Revenue & Customs; the Home Office; the Intellectual Property Office; the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; the Ministry of Defence; Ofcom; the UK Space Agency; and the Welsh Government.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***


  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles