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UK government study reveals 50,000 people employed in AI sector

Government publishes baseline analysis of UK artificial intelligence sector as it pins hopes on future growth

More than 50,000 people work at 3,170 artificial intelligence (AI) companies in the UK, which combined to generate £10bn in revenues last year, according to a government report.

In its Artificial intelligence sector study, the UK government also revealed AI suppliers added £3.7bn in value to the UK economy and attracted nearly £19bn in private investment through 2022.

The study was commissioned to give the government a better understanding of the UK AI sector. The baseline analysis will contribute to policy decisions in the future, according to Conservative peer Jonathan Berry, minister for AI and intellectual property.

The report said an average of 269 new AI companies have been registered each year since 2011.

This peaked in 2018 at 429, the year government launched the AI Sector Deal, when AI was identified as one of the four grand challenges in the Industrial Strategy in 2018. The report revealed that 75% of these companies are based in London, the South East and East of England.

There was a warning that although £19bn was invested in AI suppliers last year, a “tightening” of investment in early stage firms when they are raising seed and venture capital funding “could pose a risk to realising the potential within early stage AI companies”.

“AI has the potential to transform our economy, and our daily lives,” said Berry, in his forward to the report. “It can help us to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face, from climate change to healthcare. It can drive innovation and growth, and make our businesses more competitive on the global stage.”

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He also acknowledged the huge challenges around developing AI products and services. “AI also raises important questions and challenges,” said Berry.

“We need to ensure that it is developed and used in a way that is responsible, transparent and accountable. Our work on AI ethics builds on the UK’s existing regulatory strengths. We will continue to ensure that we take a pro-innovation approach to the development and adoption of AI – one that serves both industry and society and acts as a global advocate for the responsible design, development and use of these technologies.”

The government this week published a whitepaper outlining its “adaptable” approach to regulating AI, which it claims will drive responsible innovation while maintaining public trust in the technology.

Published on 29 March, the whitepaper emphasised the government’s commitment to “unleashing AI’s potential across the economy.”

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