Mapping the emerging economy

High quality data and insight into innovative, high-growth and emergent sectors has never been so important. Brexit and Covid-19 have created a new economic landscape for policy makers and investors to respond to. It is increasingly important for analysts to have access to real-time data about the dynamic, high potential parts of the country’s economy.

It was against this backdrop that we got together as a team to finalise our plan for the year. Our mission for 2021 is to create the new UK standard in industrial data for the emerging economy.

Poor data is holding back economic recovery. The UK is missing out on opportunities to grow new companies, create jobs, improve lives, and support net zero. Accurate data about the most exciting sectors in the UK has never been such a priority.

So, in Q1 we are mapping the UK’s emerging sectors in greater detail than anyone has previously seen. And we’re not doing it alone. Our clients and partners produce real time industrial classifications collaboratively with us. We’re working with KTN, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a host of catalysts across the UK.

As we live through the fastest pace of change in history, UK tech is at the forefront of some of the biggest questions and providing the answers. A better system for industrial data has the potential to super-charge the tech sector, allowing for faster, accurate, consistent analysis and targeted investment.
George Windsor | Head of Insights at Tech Nation

What are the emerging sectors in the UK economy?

We’ve identified 37 sectors to map in the first quarter of 2021. Of course, each sector varies in size, scale, complexity, and maturity. It is also challenging to sum up the breadth and diversity in each sector in the one line summaries provided below. Many of them overlap, such as AdTech and MarTech, and the sectors aren’t mutually exclusive.

The A-Z of emerging sectors (Q1 2021)


Adtech Companies create technology and SaaS platforms that marketers use to target, design, deliver and review the effectiveness of their advertising.

Agrifood Companies developing agriculture, horticulture and food and drink processing technologies

AgriTech Companies using or developing innovative technologies, knowledge, and science to improve agricultural produce.

Audiotech Refers to companies developing technology that manipulates sound such as medical scanning, haptics, ultrasonics, speech recognition and imperceptible audio

Autonomous vehicles This sector refers to automated driving systems that allow vehicles to respond to external events and conditions with or without a human operator


Big data Refers to companies enabling the handling and analysis of large volumes of data with high levels of complexity


Cleantech Refers to companies in clean energy, environmentally sustainable product or service design and provision such as water purification, biofuels, solar and wind

Creative industries Includes industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and capitalise on the intellectual property derived from it


Disease control Companies developing techniques to reduce in the incidence, prevalence, morbidity, or mortality of an infectious disease to a locally acceptable level.


E-commerce Refers to companies that enable other businesses to sell or buy products and services over the internet using a website, marketplace, or social media

EdTech Refers to companies creating technology that supports teaching and learning and enhances educational outcomes

Energy generation Refers to businesses that are involved in techniques used to generate energy from fossil fuels, nuclear power plants, solar panels, biofuels, wind amongst other sources.

Energy management Refers to companies creating infrastructural networks, technology and software and the provision of services to administrate energy use and consumption.

Energy storage Firms designing and producing innovative technologies to save electricity or heat that has been previously produced.

Ephemeral content Refers to companies involved in rich media that is available temporarily and then disappears such as video, photos, live-stream, stories and so on


Fintech Encompasses all organisations involved in the creation, facilitation and commercialisation of software and intelligent technologies to support financial institutions.


Gaming Industry focused on the development, commercialisation, and advertising of video games.


Healthtech Refers to companies that create technology, systems and standards that lead to better health outcomes


Immersive content Refers to companies creating technology, platforms and content in AR and VR

InsurTech Closely related to fintech, companies in this sector use technological innovation to create value, evaluate risk and improve operational efficiency in the insurance industry

IOT Refers to companies creating objects with the capability of communicating with each other and sharing data over the internet


LegalTech Refers to the use of technology and software to provide legal and aid services


Marketing tech Refers to companies creating technology and software allowing marketers to automate processes, collect and analyse data and deliver campaigns efficiently

Medical imaging Companies involved with the technique and process of creating visual representations of the interior of a body for clinical analysis and medical intervention.

Microelectronics Refers to companies studying and manufacturing (or microfabricating) small electronic designs and components. Microelectronics involves feature sizes centred in length of about a micrometre.

Mobile Includes companies involved in mobile telecommunication technology, networks, and software


Net zero One of the most challenging, yet most important, sectors to map. It is an outcome as well as a sector


Omics Organisations aiming at the collective characterisation and quantification of biological molecules that translate into the structure, function, and dynamics of an organism


Photonics Companies in an area of study that involves the use of radiant energy (such as light), whose fundamental element is the photon


Quantum technology Refers to companies applying quantum theory to real world applications such as computing, sensors, communications, navigation, clocks, and supply chain management


Residue management & processing Refers to all economic actors involved in the collection, treatment, processing, and disposal of waste material.

Robotics & automated systems Companies creating mobile, programmable machines that can work independently in physical environments, including the systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.


SaaS Refers to companies creating technology that enables other businesses to deliver their applications over the web as a service

Sensors Companies designing and creating input devices that enable products to become intelligent and automatic

Supply chain logistics Refers to companies that enable tracking and operational efficiency across supply chains through innovative technology


Targeted therapy Focused or targeted therapies are those where medical treatment is applied to specific tissues, cells, or organs. The economic sector is made of pharmaceutical companies, bio-technology and synthetic biology organisations and medical centres.


Wearables & quantified self Refers to companies creating wearable devices and other technologies that collect data about the wearer such as fitness and sleep trackers

How we’re doing it

Our process for creating real-time industrial classifications is based on combining machine learning with expert opinion. As a result we create new taxonomies and keyword descriptors, which are then tested and honed through machine learning. This creates a detailed dataset for each sector which is self-maintaining and can be queried repeatedly. Every RTIC is also revisited regularly so that the taxonomy is relevant and up to date as these emerging sectors evolve.

We are an alternative to expensive consultants who produce one-off reports that are out of date before they are even published.

Follow our progress

We are publishing beta lists, taxonomies, and full real-time industrial classifications on all the sectors above in 2021. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, or sign up to our newsletter in the footer of this page.

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