Has the government’s £1bn artificial intelligence sector deal made any difference?

One year on, has the government’s £1bn artificial intelligence (AI) sector deal made any difference?


Dr Jeremy Silver, chief executive of Digital Catapult, says YES.

A year after the announcement of the government’s sector deal, investment is at an all-time high. AI startups in the UK raised nearly £1.3bn in 2018, very nearly eclipsing the combined total for the rest of Europe.

There is now a huge opportunity for this innovation and growth to benefit more traditional UK sectors.

The appetite for AI in manufacturing companies runs high, and through the sector deal, there is greater scope for more tier one companies to pursue a clear investment strategy.

The majority of our growing crop of deep and machine learning businesses focus on finding rapidly deployable solutions, where they can tap into more readily available clean data lakes.


But by adopting the right investment vehicle, slower-moving industry sectors have a chance to increase global competition in AI.

We need to encourage traditional industry to collaborate with UK startups, so that the benefits of innovation stay here. The government deal has helped to achieve that.

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Steve Lindsey, chief executive of Lontra, says NO.

AI is already a reality for high-value manufacturing and design firms, bringing increased productivity and efficiency to our factories, products and services.

The government has done well in creating an ecosystem across our universities and institutions, but the current sector deal doesn’t help businesses who are already building the factories of the future.

The current sector deal encourages traditional venture capital, which often means growth and profit overseas, rather than here in the UK.

It also hasn’t addressed the need to invest in long-term growth in UK companies such as mine. This means that we are still seeing sector leaders such as Rolls Royce and Dyson choosing to build their digital factories overseas.

It’s little wonder when, as a digital tech company investing in high-value careers in design and manufacturing, I am currently being incentivised to build factories in Singapore, the US, and other countries, rather than the UK.

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