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/ 21.05.2018

A Breakdown Of The UK’s First Ever Immersive Market Report

– Sol Rogers

The UK’s immersive technologies sector is growing rapidly and thanks to the Immersive Economy in the UK report, which launched today, we finally have some figures to define the scale, nature, and economic value of it. Yes, actual data about the here and now, rather than forecasts, and data that is specific to the UK rather than any other country. Big thanks to Immerse UK for commissioning it and Innovate UK for funding it.

This first of its kind study maps the UK immersive sector and provides insights and intelligence that will help us all grow. Here are a few key findings from the report:


Currently, there’s an estimated 1,000 immersive specialist companies in the UK, employing roughly 4,500 people, and generating around £660 million in sales. That’s potentially as much as 9% of the global market share. It’s truly great to see the UK emerging as a world leader in the industry, setting itself apart through the breadth and depth of creativity.

Immersive is a confident, growing and export-rich sector. Of the immersive specialist businesses surveyed, half of these companies were incorporated since 2012, with 60% of these having grown their turnover in the last 12 months. Sales are expected to rise to £1bn by the end of 2018. There’s an overwhelmingly positive sentiment about the immersive industries – 90% of the companies surveyed are confident about the future of the industry. However, whilst the UK has a deep pool of talent to draw from –  film, visual effects, technology gaming – skills shortage was found to be the biggest challenge for the growth of the sector.

80% of the companies surveyed currently operate in the creative and digital markets, although two thirds also mention other markets, ranging from education and training to architecture, advanced manufacturing, and energy. Someone recently asked me: ‘what are the verticals that VR has an influence on?’ I said ‘everything’. These findings show that immersive tech is currently being applied in many different contexts. It will be interesting to see if/how these figures change over the years.

38% of the immersive companies surveyed were based in London. This stat is not surprising, but the survey also notes the rise of several immersive hotspots, with substantial numbers in Bristol, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, and Edinburgh. Access to infrastructure and technical expertise are important drivers of success and these locations have that, let’s hope we can continue to support upcoming hotspots.


Today’s report is just the start. Now that the immersive UK sector has been mapped, we need to ensure it is nurtured and realises its full potential. The barriers faced by the sector are typical for emerging industries and many – such as those linked to fragmentation of standards, lack of business models and insufficient device penetration – will be addressed in the market. However, we need a multi-pronged approach if we are really going to succeed. Government can help by tackling other issues such as access to skills and finance for innovation, and educational institutions can help by connecting with immersive businesses to better understand and address their skills needs and through conducting research.

The future is bright but we all need to come together to support this burgeoning industry and secure the UK’s position as a global leader in immersive technologies.

Please take the time to read the full report.

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