UK’s New Technology Department to Tackle Country’s Metaverse, Web3 Strategy

The department will explore economic growth, investment and business opportunities in these areas, as well as implications on regulation.

AccessTimeIconApr 14, 2023 at 2:55 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 14, 2023 at 11:22 p.m. UTC
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The U.K.'s newly formed Department of Science, Innovation and Technology will advance the country's metaverse and Web3 strategy, an individual familiar with the matter not authorized to speak publicly told CoinDesk.

The country’s 2023 Spring Budget, released in March, said the government wanted to “lead on the future of web technology, sometimes known as Web3 or the metaverse.” The new tech department, set up in February, will lead the charge in this work. The department’s work will not focus on specific technologies like blockchain and virtual reality but will instead look at potential economic growth opportunities, investment and business models associated with concepts including the Metaverse and Web3, along with implications for regulation, according to the source.

The metaverse, which is a collection of virtual worlds where people can buy and sell things, was described as a $13 trillion opportunity by investment bank Citigroup. Meta Platforms – formerly known as Facebook – dove into the sector, shifting much of its operations to focus on building the metaverse, though the recent crypto winter has put a damper on its growth.

“The Government is committed to ensuring the U.K. is ahead of the curve on the future of web technology and maximising the potential of Web3 and Metaverse,” A Department for Science, Innovation and Technology spokesperson said. “Across the board, our teams are working to deliver a pro-innovation approach, maximising the potential of new technologies while minimising any harms to the economy, security, and society.”

The U.K. government has said its science and technology framework will be supported by more than 370 million British pounds (US$463 million) in new funding "to boost infrastructure, investment and skills for the U.K.’s most exciting growing technologies, from quantum and supercomputing through to artificial intelligence.”

It's not clear how much of that money has been dedicated to the tech department and its metaverse work. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who had previously vowed to turn the country into a crypto hub, said the department was put in place to turn scientific and technical innovations into “practical solutions to the challenges we face.”

The Government has already provided significant funding to support immersive technology. It has provided £39.3 million (about $48.8 million) to develop immersive reality, a Department for Science, Innovation and Technology spokesperson said.

UPDATE (April 14, 2023, 22:13 UTC): Adds comments from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Edited by Sandali Handagama and Nikhilesh De.


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Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.

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