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AI investment in the UK reaches all-time high

Written by Mon 9 Sep 2019

London skyline

Only the US has more AI companies in operation

Investment into UK artificial intelligence companies reached record levels in the first six months of this year, sealing a record year for funding and the UK’s position as a top three country for AI investment, according to new figures.

Tech Nation, a network for UK tech entrepreneurs, compiled the statistics to coincide with the launch of its new Applied AI growth programme.

The statistics, which Tech Nation sourced from Crunchbase, reveal that AI investment grew six-fold between 2014 and 2018, with UK AI “scaleups” (companies with an average annualised return of at least 20 percent in the past 3 years with at least 10 employees) raising almost double that of France, Germany and the rest of Europe combined last year.

Based on statistics from the first half of 2019, the sector’s surge is showing no signs of slowing down. Crunchbase figures show AI funding in 2019 has already surpassed that achieved in the entire of 2018 ($1,021,642,595), reaching $1,063,012,777 and pushing the UK to third in the world for raising AI investment, behind China and the US, respectively. In addition, the US is now the only country with more AI companies in operation.

“With 35 percent of the AI companies based outside London and 45 percent having at least one female co-founder, the UK could not be building a stronger and more diverse network of Artificial Intelligence excellence at this important time of technology development, globally,” said Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech Nation.

Although the figures reflect well on the state of AI in the UK, UK AI companies are still struggling to scale up successfully, Tech Nation said. Compared to China AI firms, 53 percent of which have more than 50 employees, the size of UK AI firms is far smaller. 89 percent of the AI ecosystem is made up of startup companies with 50 or fewer employees.

To help these companies meet the challenges of scaling up, the organisation has launched an Applied AI growth programme to support them with fundraising and hiring in-demand AI talent, something Tech Nation said is currently lacking from the sector.

The 29 companies that have joined the programme were chosen based on their ability to provide AI-driven solutions to real world problems and include ClinSpec DX, Cervest, and Gapsquare. They will get access to sessions that address key scaling challenges, delivered by entrepreneurs including Unruly’s Sarah Wood, Darktrace’s Dave Palmer and former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan.

“Tech Nation’s Applied AI programme will help us make the UK the best place to start and grow an AI business and generate a significant contribution to the future economy,” said Matt Warman MP, UK Minister for Digital. “I look forward to seeing these companies compete on the global stage.”

Written by Mon 9 Sep 2019

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