Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI robot. Credit: Shutterstock/MikeDotta
London is the city where Charles Babbage designed his “engines” – the very first computers. The first live demonstrations of the wireless telegraph and television also took place in the UK capital. Today, London is at the forefront of technology with exceptional data diversity and is the AI growth capital. Here are five reasons why the city leads the way.

1. Trusted data

London offers open and transparent data with tight rules for privacy. The London Datastore, a free data-sharing portal from the Mayor of London, provides everyone with access to more than 700 datasets on London [1], with more data becoming accessible all the time. Great news for companies like Citymapper, which started in London and now covers 90% of all public transport across the UK.

2. A global environment

More than 300 languages are spoken in London [2] and AI thrives in this multilingual environment. Deep learning comes from data that is truly representative of diverse populations, so the breadth and depth of London’s datasets are as unique as its entrepreneurs. 

3. Leading research

London’s advanced AI base pumps out high quality academic research and talent – 18 top universities in the city offer AI, Machine Learning and other related degrees. In 2019, University College London opened the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence, one of the largest AI research centres in the world. [3]

In November 2020, London-based AI company DeepMind used AlphaFold to find a solution to a 50-year-old grand challenge in biology. [4] 

Many people told us that a new AI lab would need to be based in Silicon Valley to be successful, but we saw things in a different way. In London, we have top talent right here on our doorstep and it’s also a hub for exceptional AI talent from all around the globe.

4. Investment opportunities

Corporate and VC investment in London’s AI capabilities continues to pour into the city. Google opens its new £1bn headquarters in King’s Cross in 2024 [5], while GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) opened a £10m research hub to leverage AI for the discovery of new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases. [6]

5. A growing ecosystem

London is home to almost 1,300 AI companies [7] – more than New York and double the combined number in Paris and Berlin. In 2021, more than £3.4bn was invested in London AI businesses – an increase of more than 36% compared with 2020. UK GDP will be up to 10.3% higher in 2030 as a result of AI – the equivalent of an additional £232bn.  
London for AI infographic

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