In March 2021 the government announced that “A new plan to make the UK a global centre for the development, commercialisation and adoption of responsible AI will be published this year”.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“The AI strategy will focus on:
- Growth of the economy through widespread use of AI technologies
- Ethical, safe and trustworthy development of responsible AI
- Resilience in the face of change through an emphasis on skills, talent and R&D”
The announcement included that “The National AI Strategy will align with the government’s plans to support jobs and economic growth through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation. This comes as the UK sees a boost in R&D investment through the government’s Research and Development Roadmap, to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.”
It is interesting to view the government R&D investment target in light of The future UK tech built, Tech Nation Report 2021 which indicated that overall the UK is getting a good slice of private sector investment into tech companies. The report’ highlighted that “UK tech VC investment is third in the world, hitting a record high of $15bn in 2020 in the face of challenging conditions”. Yet delve deeper and the signs are not so good as the research also found that “Investment in seed stage companies is decreasing as a proportion of overall tech VC investment (14% to 6% over 5 years)”. Given seeding new companies is essential for sustained and long term growth, this could indicate trouble ahead. In fact much of the investment went into just 10 companies: “10 superstar scaleups accounted for a fifth ($3.5bn) of UK tech VC investment between them in 2020”.
It is likely to be a big challenge to grow and develop grass route skills in AI and support start-up and seed companies, to get early access to funding and investment – both of which are necessary ingredients for the UK Government’s ambition to be met.
R&D Tax Credit and Tax Relief remains a key source of funding for innovative companies – contact us to check qualification.
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