UK investment in AI startups nears the rest of Europe combined

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The UK is splashing the cash on artificial intelligence startups so much that it almost totals the rest of Europe combined.

Venture capital firms invested a record $1.3bn (£998m) in UK-based AI companies last year.

The figures are provided by Dealroom and show a fourfold increase in five years. A couple of notable rounds includes $200 million for Graphcore in your humble editor’s hometown of Bristol, and $50 million for what feels like my second home of London.

For comparative purposes, French AI startups raised $400 million last year, while Germany raised $300 million.

But the UK is not slowing down. Business Secretary Greg Clark and Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright announced today £200 million to establish 16 new centres and deliver 1,000 new PhDs to ensure the UK leads the global revolution in AI.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“The UK has long been a nation of innovators and today’s package of AI skills and talent investment will help nurture leading UK and international talent to ensure we retain our world-beating reputation in research and development.

Artificial intelligence has great potential to drive up productivity and enhance every industry throughout our economy, from more effective disease diagnosis to building smart homes. Today’s announcement is our modern Industrial Strategy in action, investing in skills and talent to drive high skilled jobs, growth and productivity across the UK.”

A £100 million investment will support these PhD students in using AI to improve healthcare, tackle climate change, and create new commercial opportunities. Over 300 partners are involved including AstraZeneca, Google, Rolls-Royce, and NHS trusts.

The private companies are investing a total of £78 million in cash or in-kind contributions, while the universities are committing a further £23 million. This brings up the investment to over £200 million.

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright commented:

“The UK is not only the birthplace to the father of artificial intelligence, Alan Turing, but we are leading the way on work to ensure AI innovation has ethics at its core. We want to keep up this momentum and cement our reputation as pioneers in AI.

Working with world-class academic institutions and industry we will be able to train the next generation of top-tier AI talent and maintain the UK’s reputation as a trailblazer in emerging technologies.”

Despite the national doom and gloom over Brexit, foreign investment keeps flowing into talented startups which may become the next DeepMind.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and their use cases? Attend the co-located AI & Big Data Expo events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more. Co-located with the IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo.

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