Just 7% of UK startups actively involved with AI

Despite the UK pushing for global leadership in artificial intelligence, the number of startups actually capitalising on or developing AI is sparse

Less than 10 per cent of UK startups are using or facilitating artificial intelligence, despite Rishi Sunak pushing for Britain to become a global leader in AI.

Out of nearly 17,000 UK startups, just 1,270 startups have been identified as clearly using or enabling others to use AI through their technology – just 7 per cent.

The top sector for AI investment in the UK has been in health, with £3.4 billion of funding since 2011, according to research from Oxford University and venture capital firm OpenOcean.

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The top use case has been for facial recognition, with £6 billion raised since 2011. Image recognition is expected to become a $134 billion global market by 2030.

The second most-popular use case has been forecasting (£5.2 billion), followed by goal-driven optimisation (£4.9 billion) and event detection (£4.4 billion).

The Saïd Business School at The University of Oxford and OpenOcean have based their findings on early research from O3, their new AI platform which offers the world’s most granular map of the tech ecosystem.

UK tech sector now worth $1 trillionThe UK becomes the first country apart from the US and China whose tech ecosystem is worth more than a trillion dollars

Early analysis from 03 found that AI infrastructure startups in the UK – defined as either hardware or lower-level software companies controlling hardware – raised £2.7 billion collectively compared with £10 billion for AI startups offering use cases for AI. By comparison, $11.3 billion has been invested in ChatGPT-creator OpenAI alone.

And, despite the Government preparing to host a global AI safety summit in November, the least well-funded AI use cases were for privacy protection (£1.2 billion) — still a nascent industry — and companies facilitating AI (£850 million).

Leading academics and executives from AI companies, including Google’s DeepMind, Microsoft, OpenAI and Anthropic, are being invited to an AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, the Buckinghamshire country house where British codebreakers were based during the Second World War, led by Alan Turing, regarded as the father of computing.

The summit will broadly address safety in artificial intelligence, including sessions on the ethics of using AI systems and guardrails to build around them, potential solutions to misinformation ahead of upcoming elections and the need for cyber security, such as designing secure AI software which can resist hackers and nefarious nation-states.

Further reading

Venture capital funding way down on last yearAmounts raised by VCs in H1 2023 fall by nearly two thirds compared with same period in 2022