VC investment in UK AI start-ups hits $1.3bn in 2018

However, rate of investment growth slows compared with 2017

Venture capital investment in British artificial intelligence start-ups hit $1.3 billion last year, an eight per cent year-on-year increase.

However, the rate of investment did slow in 2018.

In 2016-17, VC investment in UK AI start-ups almost doubled from £700 million to $1.2 billion.

Investments in AI have been across all sectors but fintech and healthtech have seen particularly strong growth.

Overall, the amount of money being ploughed in to British AI start-ups has increased almost six-fold in five years.

Indeed, despite last year’s slowdown, British companies have raised almost as much as the rest of Europe combined in 2018, according to Netherlands-based researcher Dealroom,

French AI companies raised $400 million, while Germany’s raised $300 million. Israel was second place behind the UK when it came to raising VC funds at start-ups at $800 million.

Dealroom recorded 82 VC fundraisings across UK companies in 2018, compared with 70 in the previous year.

The figures were collected for the government’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation.

Interest in artificial intelligence companies has leapt since 2014, when UK AI companies raised just $200 million.

One of the biggest fundings of 2018 was Graphcore, the Bristol startup, which raised $200 million from a consortium of investors.

Other UK AI companies that raised funds in 2018 include Renalytix AI, a developer of AI for kidney disease, which raised $29 million through an AIM flotation; healthtech company Medopad ($26 million); HR software Beamery ($28 million); and accident and disaster recovery start-up Tractable ($25 million).

The UK counts at least five AI “unicorns” amongst the total number of private tech companies with a valuation of $1 billion: these are Darktrace ($1.7 billion valuation), Benevolent AI ($2.1 billion); Improbable ($2 billion); Graphcore ($1.7 billion) and Blue Prism ($1.3 billion).

See also: UK AI start-ups on the rise: one founded every 5 days