UK startups are falling behind when it comes to adopting artificial intelligence (AI) technology, despite efforts by the government to establish the country as a global leader in the field. According to a study from Oxford University and venture capital firm OpenOcean, less than 10% of UK startups are currently using or facilitating AI. Out of nearly 17,000 startups, only 1,270 have been identified as clearly utilizing AI, representing just 7% of the total.
Healthcare has been the sector with the highest level of AI investment in the UK, with a total funding of £3.4 billion since 2011. The top use case for AI has been facial recognition, which has raised an impressive £6 billion in the same period. The market for image recognition is projected to reach a value of $134 billion globally by 2030. Other popular use cases for AI include forecasting, which has received £5.2 billion in funding, and goal-driven optimization and event detection, both of which have received over £4 billion.
Interestingly, a survey conducted by AI policy network Appraise revealed that only 6% of Members of Parliament in the UK are confident in the ability of existing regulators to monitor AI effectively. This highlights the perceived lack of skills and expertise within regulatory bodies when it comes to regulating AI technologies.
The study also found that AI infrastructure startups in the UK collectively raised £2.7 billion, significantly less than the £10 billion raised by AI startups offering specific AI use cases. This discrepancy could indicate a focus on developing AI applications rather than the underlying technological infrastructure.
While the UK government is preparing to host a global AI safety summit in November, AI use cases related to privacy protection and companies facilitating AI received the least funding. The privacy protection industry is still in its early stages, with only £1.2 billion invested, while companies facilitating AI received a relatively modest £850 million.
To address the challenges and issues surrounding AI, leading academics and executives from influential AI companies such as Google’s DeepMind, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Anthropic have been invited to an AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park. This historical location, known for its significance in British codebreaking during World War II and the work of Alan Turing, will serve as a venue for discussions on AI safety, ethics, cybersecurity, and misinformation.
While the Oxford study reveals a lag in AI adoption among UK startups, the government’s commitment to hosting an AI safety summit and ongoing investments in the field demonstrate a continued push towards establishing the country as a global leader in AI. With the right support and regulatory framework, UK startups have the potential to catch up and play a significant role in shaping the future of AI technology.