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Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) could add £62.5 billion to the UK economy by 2030

Nov 19, 2019

VR and AR are forecast to add £62.5 billion to the UK economy, a 2.4% boost to GDP, by 2030 according to a new report launched today by PwC. The majority of the contribution to the UK economy will come from AR (£44.4 billion) with VR providing £18.1 billion. VR and AR will also have a significant impact on the UK workplace with 1.19% of jobs (400,663 people) utilising the technologies by 2030.

Jeremy Dalton, Head of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, PwC UK, says: 

“VR and AR are finally coming of age and have the potential to provide a significant boost to the UK economy. They will also improve the way organisations operate, make processes faster and more effective, and create incredible new experiences.

“However, the technology needs the full support of key stakeholders in order to fully prosper. Government assistance through financial incentives and funding for research and development is required, as is support for forums that handle regulatory issues as the technologies mature. Research groups will need to provide the advancements that drive the technology forwards. And businesses will need to build a better understanding of the technology by getting started and using VR and AR to help solve business problems their organisations face.”

VR and AR to add £1.4 trillion to the global economy by 2030

Overall, VR and AR have the potential to add £1.4 trillion to the global economy by 2030, according to the report. This would provide a big increase on the current contribution to global GDP of £41.9 billion. On a country by country basis, the US will see a boost of £484.2 billion to its economy by 2030 as a result of VR and AR, representing a 2.83% increase in GDP. The major Asian economies of China (£165.3 billion) and Japan (£129.1 billion) will see the next biggest boost representing 2.09% and 2.00% increases in GDP respectively. However, it is the European economies of Finland (£7 billion), Germany (£93.4 billion) and the UK (£62.5 billion) that are forecast to see the biggest increases in percentage terms of GDP by 2030 with contributions of 2.64%, 2.46%, and 2.44% respectively. 

Out of the two technologies, AR will continue to provide the biggest benefits to global GDP through to 2030, accounting for £985 billion of the £1.4 trillion overall. 

VR and AR to benefit a wide range of industries 

  • The healthcare sector will provide a boost of £316 billion to global GDP by 2030 through utilising the new technologies. VR is already being used to give medical students greater access to operating theatres, where there are restrictions on the number of observers. And, the technology is also being used to enable consultants based in different locations to collaborate remotely and discuss upcoming surgical procedures. 

  • VR and AR are opening up new ways to improve the efficiency, productivity and accuracy of employees and processes, and will provide a £248 billion boost to global GDP by 2030. Engineers and technicians can be fed information such as repair diagrams in real-time using an AR interface, enabling them to quickly identify problems and conduct repairs and maintenance. In the logistics sector, smart glasses can display picking information for the worker, highlighting location and displaying product details and packing instructions.

  • The use of VR and AR in development and training will provide a £265.2 billion boost to global GDP by 2030. One way in which this will be possible is that it will provide a way to train employees where it is not always practical, or safe, to do so in the real world. It will also save businesses time and money by recreating physical environments and scenarios digitally which can then be accessed simultaneously anywhere in the world and on different scales.

  • The use of VR and AR in the retail and consumer sector will provide a £183.9 billion boost to global GDP by 2030.  Gaming is one area where many people have already experienced VR and AR. Retailers will be able to create new customer experiences, from virtual fitting rooms for fashion stores to AR applications that let people test how furniture would look in their home before they buy. The technologies will also help retailers better understand buyer behaviour through advanced consumer research.

  • Product and service development will provide a £324.1 billion boost to global GDP by 2030 through VR and AR.  It will allow organisations to collaborate and work together in virtual environments, saving time and money.

Businesses need to take initiative to capitalise on VR and AR

Jeremy Dalton concludes:

“While many organisations might think VR and AR offer no major benefit to their business, our research has shown that's not the case. Now is the time for them to think about how these technologies can improve their performance or they risk being left behind. 

“Organisations need to look beyond the software development stage and focus on designing the solution to solve a specific business issue - VR and AR can be used to speed up processes, improve safety, reduce costs or open up new revenue streams. 

“The uptake and positive feedback of a VR or AR solution will be largely dependent on how comfortable and intuitive it is to use, so creating a seamless experience is crucial. Start small with a pilot programme to see the technology in action. Follow up by gathering feedback to direct the next step, which could be further investment or a pivot in a different direction, or a completely different path. There is no failure in being better informed.”

Please find the full report and data explorer here:

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