The government plans to fund a Digital Economy 'Catapult' centre to help spur innovation and adoption of new technologies by retail and media business.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the investment on Thursday, but did not say how much funding or where the centre will be located. However, it did say the money will come from a £200m fund set aside for a network of new Catapult Centres across a number of different industry sectors.
"We have world-leading, innovative businesses in the ICT, digital and creative sectors which have considerable potential for growth. For instance, a few years ago, there were just 15 technology start-ups around Old Street and Shoreditch — now there are hundreds of high-tech companies in the area," Business Secretary Vince Cable said in a statemet.
"The Connected Digital Economy Catapult is a practical way in which government can support industry to maintain its competitive advantage so that they can continue to be leading the way in making products and services that people want," he added.
Other Catapult centres — formerly known as Technology and Innovation Centres — include ones dedicated to advanced manufacturing and cell therapy, with a satellite applications facility to come this year.
The new centre will help non-digital businesses adapt to digital technologies and help media and content companies to develop survival strategies. It will also look at "how our devices, our clothes, our cars, and other consumer goods become better connected to enhance the physical nature of our lives", BIS said.
One of the new technologies the UK government seems keen to keep a close eye on is augmented reality (AR); Vince Cable made the announcement on Thursday from the offices of AR company Holition in Shoreditch.
Another UK-based AR start-up, Blippar, recently won a UK Trade and Investment competition to discover the best British innovation. As a reward for its victory, Blippar received sponsorship from the agency to attend CES 2012, which included a paid-for booth on the show floor.