The UK’s most rapidly emerging industry – artificial intelligence (AI) – attracted $1.3 billion in VC funding this year alone. This is almost a seven-fold increase in just 5 years, where in 2014 the sector attracted $200 million. The findings come from a new report – Harnessing the Power of AI: The Demand for Future Skills - from global recruiter Robert Walters and market analysis experts Vacancy Soft.

The pace at which AI has infiltrated business and industries has been quick – with promises of a productivity boost and opportunities to bring about new and revolutionary products and services. In fact, the emergence of AI is expected to create 133 million new roles globally, and impact 10.5 million roles in the UK alone. Ollie Sexton, Principal at Robert Walters comments:

“Across Industry, businesses are exploring the potential of AI and wondering how they can tap into this for their own advantage. With this, we are seeing the emergence of a new niche sector within the technology industry - of specialist companies dedicated to just AI. The establishment of a dedicated AI sector is accompanied by significant VC funding into the sector.”



One's to Watch: Total Funding for the UK's Top AI Startups



Demand for AI specialists


The take-up of AI across industry is leading to an explosion in recruitment into specialist researchers into artificial intelligence. Tom Chambers, Manager - Advanced Analytics and Engineering at Robert Walters comments:

“Where this area was once an obscure niche, now hundreds of technology businesses are actively recruiting for specialists in developing AI algorithms. As a result, the job market has shifted significantly where demand is now outstripping supply.”



                                                                                                         Top industries investing in AI

The report highlights substantial growth in specialist positions within the AI ecosystem -  including machine learning, neuro-linguisticprogramming (NLP), geospatial analysis, AI research, and applied data science vacancies - where there has been job vacancy increases from 445 in 2015 to over 4,000 estimated this year (+897%).  For the rest of this year, vacancies within the AI-specialist firms are on track to grow by 37%.” Tom Chambers adds:

“Edge AI is having a huge impact on AI investment as businesses cater for real-time decision making - from facial recognition on smartphones, to driverless vehicles responding to the road in real-time, to instantaneous medical imaging. These real-time needs are leading businesses to make the leap into the international hiring pool in search of specialist AI and machine learning skills."


“On the one hand, Brexit threatens the freedom of movement necessary for businesses to attract people from across the continent. On the other hand, the new Prime Minister has stated that the policy of the government will be to make it as easy as possible for business to attract the scientists and engineers needed to keep the UK at the forefront of R&D,” Chambers concluded.