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UK Artificial Intelligence Investment Reaches Record Levels

Tech Nation, the UK’s leading network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, reveals that UK Artificial Intelligence investment is reaching record highs. Tech Nation has partnered with Crunchbase to track and analyze global AI funding over the last few years. Within the first 8 months of 2019, AI investment in the UK has reached an all-time high – making it potentially a record year for AI funding growth. 

The news comes as Tech Nation announces which 29 companies have successfully made it onto the UK’s first ever Applied AI growth programme. The inaugural sector programme aims to support the AI founders that are making a positive and tangible impact on today’s society at a crucial stage of their growth journey.

AI Tech on the Rise

Investment in AI technology grew almost six-fold from 2014 to 2018. 2019 is set to be another year of record funding growth in AI in the UK, building on four years of consecutive growth. As of August 2019, AI funding in the UK has already surpassed 2018’s figures. AI investment reached just over $1 billion in 2018 in the UK, but has already reached over $1 billion in the first 8 months of 2019 (Source: Crunchbase).

As a result, the UK is currently third in the world for raising investment in AI, behind only China and the U.S. respectively (see Figure 1.0), and second in the world (behind the U.S.) for the number of AI companies in operation during 2019 (Source: Crunchbase).

Find all AI companies in the U.K. and their funding amounts in this Crunchbase search.

AI Funding in the US, China, and the UK - Crunchbase

      Figure 1: Source: Crunchbase, collected 16th-17th August 2019

The growth of AI is well documented, but a comparison of China and the UK’s artificial intelligence ecosystem offers an interesting perspective. In the UK, 89% of the AI ecosystem is predominantly made up of startup companies with 50 or fewer employees. In comparison, Chinese AI companies tend to have larger workforces; 53% have more than 50 employees. The data speaks to a bigger issue: scaling an AI company still presents a number of unique challenges. From fundraising a ‘deep tech’ company, to hiring in-demand AI talent.

Applied AI Cohort 

The cohort were chosen on their ability to provide AI-driven solutions to real world problems, applying artificial intelligence to create a tangible impact on society. The cohort includes:

  • Glasgow-based ClinSpec DX uses AI to provide cost-effective blood tests for the early detection of brain tumours;
  • London-based Cervest utilises machine learning to answer questions linked to climate uncertainty, land, and natural resources;
  • Bristol-based Gapsquare applies Artificial Intelligence to tackle gender and minority pay inequality.

‘‘With investment in UK-based artificial intelligence tech companies ranked third in the world, after the US and China, Tech Nation is delighted to announce such a strong first cohort of Applied Artificial intelligence companies. With 35% of the AI companies based outside London and 45% 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.” – Gerard Grech, Tech Nation, CEO

Tech Nation’s Applied AI programme aims to support companies as they move from the early stages of growth, subsequently fulfilling a critical demand facing the AI tech sector. The programme is also part of the Government’s AI Sector Deal’s ambition to make the UK the best place to start, grow, and scale an AI business.

Read more about how AI funding is on the rise in this Crunchbase News article.