2018 funding for UK AI sector hit a record £998m

London’s artificial intelligence sector is on the rise, no question. Last year, investments from venture capital firms into the UK’s artificial intelligence (AI) sector hit a record $1.3bn (£998m). That is almost as much as the rest of Europe combined.

New figures from Dealroom show a more than fourfold increase over the past five years, from a total of $200m in 2014 to its current $1.3m. In comparison, Germany raised $300m last year, while French AI startups raised $400m.

In 2018, Major UK rounds included $200m raised by Bristol-based Graphcore’s, and $50m raised by London unicorn Darktrace.

This news comes as Greg Clark, business secretary, and Jeremy Wright, digital secretary, recently announced a nationwide programme of AI postgraduate courses, all industry-funded. These course places will be funded by businesses such as Google’s Deepmind, BAE Systems and Cisco, with the aim to drive up skills in the UK’s AI sector.

“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,” said Wright.

“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.”

The government has also announced it will fund a series of AI research fellowships at the Alan Turing Institute. Alongside this, new PhDs will be created at dedicated AI centres for doctoral training across the country.

Gerard Grech, Tech Nation chief executive, said these recent figures prove the UK has “the strongest AI investment market in Europe”. This announcement follows similar achievements for UK fintech, which hit a record $3.3bn in funding in 2018.

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