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There’s an AI gold rush underway in the capital as VC investment jumps to £85m
Posted by Billy Wood on 20 Apr 2017
En vogue technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have sparked an investment gold rush in the capital as venture capitalists race to unearth the next DeepMind or MagicPony.
According to new figures released by London and Partners, investment in businesses working on AI innovations has jumped twentyfold in the last five years after VC flows hit £85m in 2016, up from just £3m in 2011.
Similar gains have been experienced in the robotics sector, with companies such as Starship Technologies contributing to a £14m investment total last year after the sector attracted a paltry £110,000 for 2014 and 2015 combined. Similar gains are almost guaranteed for this year too, after Starship closed a £13.95m seed round in January.
While the figures outline the shifting landscape of London’s tech expertise, FinTech has remained the bedrock of the city’s tech investment with VC flows booming the first quarter of this year.
Massive rounds for the likes of Funding Circle, which raised £82m back in January, and buzzy digital-only bank Monzo, which closed a £22m round recently, have contributed to over £177m investment in the sector in the first quarter of this year alone - a total which surpasses any single quarter in 2016.
Today’s figures will help to bolster the city’s post-Brexit resolve after last year’s funding dip had fuelled fears that London’s pre-eminent position as a global FinTech hub was under threat.
Access to necessary talent, however, remains a major issue and could only get worse if a Hard Brexit serves to sever the industry’s pipeline of skilled European workers.
Russ Shaw, London Tech Week ambassador and Founder of Tech London Advocates believes the figures show that the capital remains at the forefront of global innovation, but renewed his call for more protections for the city’s tech talent.
He said: “Over the course of the last decade London has become a global hub for the technology sector. More recently, our expertise in Fintech, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics has shown that the city is at the cutting edge of technological innovation.
“London’s strength derives from the city’s diversity, rich pool of talent and global connections. This has been the basis for our considerable success, and it is important to protect these factors as our tech sector continues to create more jobs and wealth.“