Taking Risks to Aid a New Generation of Entrepreneurs; Tom Loosemore, Head of Channel 4's Public Sector Innovation Investment Fund 4ip, Will Chair the Staying Ahead of the Game Panel on Research and Innovation at the Digital Britain Event. Here, He Explores Ways the United Kingdom Can Foster the Next Google or Facebook

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Byline: Tom Loosemore

In the midst of a recession, with millions of people facing unemployment and instability, some may argue that there are bigger issues for the Government to consider than the future of local news or the speed of a standard internet connection.

But digital technology can revolutionise everything from shopping to news gathering, political campaigning to health checks.

As this country faces the combined threats of economic meltdown and democratic breakdown, Digital Britain's recommendations on how to build our digital future could be a transformative moment.

Digital media presents a great opportunity, allowing us to do things that were never previously possible.

It enables us to reach out to strangers across the world as well as giving local communities a stronger voice. Channel 4's innovation fund 4iP is dedicated to explore the public service opportunity of these new digital tools - with early commissions such as Help Me Investigate and Talk About Local examining how the web's ability to share information and connect people can be used to facilitate local news-gathering and community activism.

Britain has no shortage of talent or innovation in this sector - as exemplified here in the West Midlands, with its world-class universities, vibrant blogging community and hundreds of creative entrepreneurs busily exploring the potential of digital technology for both commercial and social purposes.

4iP's partnership with Screen West Midlands has ensured we have a commissioning presence here and we have already been impressed by the strength and range of ideas. This creative strength and opportunities across industry means the digital sector could play a vital role in helping Britain to grow its way out of recession.

However, digital media is now a global economy, with countries from the United States to South Korea already seeking to exploit its potential and despite some notable international successes (music site Last. …