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Sep 11, 2019

AI investment in the UK reaches all-time high

UK now second only to US for number of AI firms

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a much-discussed issue within finance, but AI investment in the UK has been hugely supported hugely, reaching an all-time high in the first six months of 2019.

According to data from investment platform Crunchbase, 2019 is set to be another year of record funding growth for AI in the UK: investment reached $1.02 bn in all of 2018, but has already reached $1.06 bn in the first six months of 2019.

As a result, the UK is currently third in the world for raising investment in AI, behind only China and the US, and second in the world – behind the US – for the number of AI companies in operation during 2019.

In the UK, 89 percent of the AI ecosystem is predominantly made up of startup companies with 50 or fewer employees, notes the Crunchbase data. By comparison, Chinese AI companies tend to have larger workforces: 53 percent have more than 50 employees.

The data highlights a bigger issue: scaling – building and growing – an AI company still presents a number of unique challenges, from fund-raising a ‘deep tech’ company to hiring in-demand AI talent.

In the wider trend, investment in AI technology has grown almost six-fold between 2014 and 2018, with UK AI scale-ups raising almost double the sums raised by France, Germany and the rest of Europe combined last year.

But Harry Davies, applied AI lead at UK tech network Tech Nation, says in a statement: ‘For the UK to maintain its authority in AI, we need to nurture scalable, globally competitive, homegrown AI companies that solve real problems. Yet the pool of AI-focused companies that achieve this beyond Series A [first round of fund-raising] remains slim, despite the hype, and the path to scale is uniquely challenging.’



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