New research has shown that Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, stands as the most ‘AI ready’ city in the United Kingdom after London. SAS AI Cities Index 2023, the index responsible for this revelation, utilised various indicators to conclude this, including the number of AI-related job ads, AI companies in the city, tech meet-ups, and the value of InnovateUK funding allocated to each region.
The Role of Universities in Edinburgh’s AI Boom
Among the reasons that catapulted Edinburgh to the top is its educational institutions. SAS analysed every course offered by UK universities and found that Edinburgh boasts the highest number of courses with an AI component. The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, and Edinburgh Napier have been particularly instrumental in pushing the AI envelope, garnering millions of pounds in InnovateUK grants for research projects.
In comparison to other popular tech hubs, Cambridge and Oxford ranked second and third, respectively, in terms of AI readiness. Despite their robust landscape for AI career opportunities, thriving institutions, and high life satisfaction scores, they fell short of the thriving AI ecosystem that Edinburgh has fostered.
Significant Leaps in AI-Readiness Across the UK
The study also revealed noteworthy improvements in AI-readiness across several parts of the UK since the 2022 index. Cities like Leicester, Inverness, Norwich, and Wells have made significant strides, suggesting that they’ve undertaken numerous actions to amplify their AI-ready initiatives. Meanwhile, the least prepared regions to utilise AI were Chichester, Bangor, and Dundee.
London Boroughs: An Intra-City Analysis
The SAS AI Cities Index 2023 didn’t shy away from making intra-city comparisons either. When considering the AI-readiness of London boroughs, Hillingdon, home to Heathrow Airport, unexpectedly took the top spot, surpassing usual frontrunners like Camden and Westminster.
AI Education: A Necessity for the Digital Age
Glyn Townsend, senior director of education services at SAS EMEA, emphasised the importance of data literacy in the current job market. With more jobs requiring an understanding of data, educators must equip students with the necessary tools to incorporate data literacy, analytics, and AI elements into their respective subject areas.
The Future of AI in the UK
This recent study amplifies the importance of AI readiness for the UK’s future. As the nation aims to become a science and technology superpower by 2030, every city – not just the largest or most populated ones – must build, test, and implement AI technologies. This will require creating an ecosystem that bridges institutions, research, and commercial applications for developing and deploying future technologies.
Edinburgh’s position as the most AI-ready city outside London attests to the impressive strides Scotland’s capital has made in leveraging AI for growth. This status serves as an example for other cities across the UK to take note of, as the nation strides towards a technologically advanced future.