Research Outline

Translation Services Industry in the U.K.


To provide an overview of the translation services industry in the U.K., with a focus on machine translation including the volume of business, target market by industry and target market by language.

Early Findings

Overview of the U.K. Language Services Market

  • According to the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), a professional membership association founded in 1976, the U.K. language services market, primarily focusing on the business of translation and localisation, is valued at £1.35 billion in revenue with 1,600 active language service companies.
  • The U.K.’s 4 largest players comprise 65% of the total market, while majority of the companies in this sector, 9 out of 10, turn over less than £250,000 a year.

Source of Business for Language Services Companies in the U.K. By Geography and Sector

From the ATC’s Language Industry Survey 2019, the proportion of global business for U.K. companies in language services is as follows:
  • 47.73%: U.K.
  • 30.59%: Rest of Europe
  • 15.78%: U.S.
  • 2.86: Asia
  • 3.03%: Rest of the World

From the ATC’s Language Industry Survey 2019, the proportion of business for U.K. companies in language services by industry is as follows:
  • Financial, patent, market research and legal firms: 23.3%
  • Manufacturing, engineering, automotive, energy and construction: 21.8%
  • Other language service companies: 12.4%
  • Pharmaceutical and medical devices: 8.5%
  • Ecommerce, travel and eLearning:8.1%
  • Public sector: 7.6%
  • Luxury brands and advertising: 4.4%
  • Software companies: 2.9%
  • Healthcare institutions: 1.5%
  • Entertainment (film, TV and games): 1.2%
  • Other: 8.2%

Global Machine Translation Industry

  • Globally, the machine translation market size is expected to reach $983.3 million by 2022, growing at a 14.6% CAGR between 2012-2022.
  • Machine translation is predominantly used in these industries: military and defense, IT, electronics, automotive, and healthcare.
  • The automotive and electronics industries are expected to gain substantial market share by 2022 owing to need for timely and accurate translation of large amounts of content in various application segments. Specifically, "how-to manuals, detailed vehicle specifications and information, technical documentation, and vehicle part catalogs are majorly translated using machine translation technologies."
  • In 2016, these industries contributed nearly 40% to the machine translation market: military and defense, healthcare and life sciences, automotive, and travel and hospitality. In military and defense, "as thousands of languages are spoken across the world, the military and defense segment necessitates rapid translation of high-volume content to communicate with multilingual populations on a real-time basis."

Machine Translation Industry in the U.K.

  • In the U.K., based on the ATC’s Language Industry Survey 2019, on average: 26% of the projects carried out by language service companies utilise machine translation. 15% of respondents in the survey stated that machine translation is used in 80% or more of their projects.
  • Language service companies in the U.K. have had to overcome objections to quality in implementing machine translation.
  • Some of the notable companies in the machine translation sector in the U.K. include SDL with its BeGlobal MT software and TranslateMedia.

Summary of Findings

  • In this first hour of research, we were able to find information on the overall language services market in the U.K. We were not able to find specifics on the machine translation segment of the market in the U.K. However we were able to provide helpful insights based on information available on the overall predominant industries for the U.K. language service companies as well as the global overview on target industries for machine translation.
  • We suggest continued research as below: