UK has right ingredients to support growth of AI entrepreneurs

Author

UK Business Angels Association

09 November 2016

The UK is home to some of the best global talent in artificial intelligence (AI), in the last four years producing five startups so successful that they were bought by tech giants, including Google, Microsoft and Twitter. Many of these entrepreneurs have been backed by angel investors who have identified the opportunity to get involved in this fast-emerging area and who have already seen some successful exits. These include DeepMind, backed by many of the Cambridge Angels, bought by Google in 2015, and SwiftKey, which was UKBAA Angel Exit of the Year 2016, bought by Microsoft, whilst Magic Pony, an Entrepreneur First-backed company, was snapped up by Twitter this summer.

Mike Lynch, angel investor and founder of the software developer company, Autonomy, is one of several entrepreneurs to have achieved a hugely successful exit and go on to fund new enterprises in the AI space. For example, after setting up the $1bn fund, Invoke Capital, Lynch led an $18m funding round in the Cambridge-based cyber-security firm, Darktrace, seen as one of the hottest AI startups according to Silicon Valley analysts.

The talent produced by top academic institutions including Oxford, Imperial and UCL, alongside a growing interest in commercial ventures with AI at their core, are believed to be two of the main factors that give UK the edge when it comes to AI.

Though some may look upon acquisitions by foreign investors as economic losses to the UK, Kiki Loizou’s feature in the Sunday Times highlights the benefits these exits can bring. Specifically, more talent to create or nurture new AI businesses and funds to reinvest in this technology startup ecosystem become available.

With significant potential to disrupt the market, it is no wonder enterprises focussing on AI are attracting the attention of angel investors.

To read more on the topic, see the Sunday Times feature here.

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