Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the way we live, work, travel, and do business. It touches all aspects of modern life, from finance, national security, health care, criminal justice, and of course driverless cars. The expertise of British AI companies, some of the world’s most innovative, contributes significantly to this increase in global economic growth and productivity.
Recently, Tech Nation, the leading growth platform for UK tech companies, released data on the growth of the AI tech ecosystem in the UK. According to this new data, the UK is now home to over 1,300 AI companies, up from 180 companies in 2011, representing a 600% increase.
AI companies are scaling across all regions of the UK, with 50% of the top scaling AI companies being outside of London with Cambridge and Edinburgh being major hubs. Furthermore, Venture Capital investment into UK AI companies also rocketed from $120 million in 2010 to $3.4 billion in 2020.
This year rings another exciting cohort of successful startups to the fore. Working with Lloyds Bank, UKTN brings you a list of AI disruptors building the foundations for the future growth of the UK economy.
Founders: Poppy Gustafsson
Founded year: 2013
The British AI company specialises in cyber defence. The platform uses machine learning and AI to protect clients from cyberattacks.
The Cambridge-based company most recently announced plans to go public on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), through an Initial Public Offering (IPO), setting a strong precedent for up-and-coming AI companies, with shares soaring by 32% on the first day of trading.
“Our intention to list on the London Stock Exchange marks a major milestone in Darktrace’s history of rapid growth and a historic day for the UK’s thriving technology sector. Developed by our talented software engineering teams in Cambridge, our AI was the first on the market to be deployed at scale in the enterprise and is responsible for protecting over 4,700 organisations worldwide from the most sophisticated cyber-threats,” Gustafsson said in a statement while launching the IPO in April.
Founders: Simon Knowles, Nigel Toon
Founded year: 2016
Raising seven funding rounds and reaching unicorn status in just four years of trading, the Bristol-based Graphcore is in the semiconductor processing chip industry. Developing and manufacturing chips made specifically to accelerate AI and machine learning tasks, the company’s chips utilise Intelligence Process Unit (IPU) technology.
Designed specifically to resolve AI workloads, Graphcore recently announced a new GC200 chip and a new IPU Machine running on it. It is touted to be the first AI computer to achieve a petaflop of processing power with a compact form factor. The AI chipmaker had also secured $150 million (nearly £112 million) funding led by Mayfair along with Baillie Gifford, M&G Investments and Merian Chrysalis among other existing investors last year.
It has partnered with large technology companies such as Microsoft and Dell Technologies to supply them with computer chips. According to Nigel Toon, co-founder & CEO of Graphcore, building a great company is about more than just having a great idea for a product or service – although that’s crucial too.
“It is about assembling a group of people, with the right skills, who believe in a shared objective. Starting up and scaling a business, you will inevitably be confronted with challenges you didn’t foresee and opportunities that you didn’t predict. If you have a team of people who are resilient in the face of change, who bring creative, imaginative solutions, and who are all pulling in the same direction, you can achieve anything. That’s why creating a strong company culture is just as important and putting in place the right business processes. If you get that right, and nurture it as the company grows, you’ll be prepared for whatever happens,” he said.
Founder: Andrew Hopkins
Founded year: 2012
The Oxford-based biotech company is a clinical-stage pharmatech pioneering the use of AI to design new drugs. With its end-to-end AI-first drug discovery platform, CentaurAI, the company has been able to generate novel drugs and overcome conventional drug discovery limitations several years faster than industry benchmarks. In April, the company raised $225 million in Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 along with existing investors Novo Holdings and funds managed by Blackrock.
Last week, the AI drugs discovery firm also unveiled a 21,000 square foot expansion of its facilities at Oxford Science Park. It is also building a new robotic laboratory at nearby Milton Park, Oxfordshire focused on the automation of chemistry and biology to accelerate drug discovery.
“Exscientia has grown significantly in 2021, driven by new partnerships with leading pharma and biotech companies, as well as by our in-house drug discovery work. Our pipeline includes more than 25 active research programs across therapeutic areas, with a focus on immunology and oncology,” said Dr. David Hallet, Chief Operating Officer of Exscientia.
Founders: Achille D’Antoni, Gary Bhattacharjee, Uzair Bawany
Founded year: 2016
The London-based fintech company aims to redefine trade finance technology by digitising and automating document checking to improve efficiency and reduce risk. Its AI-powered platform digitises structured and unstructured elements, automates trade rules and compliance checks with fully centralised auditability.
In May this year, the company closed its Series A funding round of $8 million (nearly £5.65 million). Led by Spearhead Capital along with institutional and private investors, including AFG Partners and several European Family Offices, the new funding will allow the company to accelerate its investment into infrastructure and people as they look to serve clients globally.
“It’s been inspiring to see the interest in the company and our business mission from our investors. The funding will allow us to accelerate our investment into infrastructure and people as we look to serve clients globally and across diverse time zones,” Sameer Sehgal, CEO, Traydstream had said during the funding announcement.
Founder: Robert Flowers
Founded year: 2014
The Newcastle-under-Lyme-based lendtech is built on retail understanding and consumer insight. Attempting to solve many common pain points for its retail partners, its distinctive approach enables retailers to provide a credit option with no hidden small print, and capabilities such as an online checkout that provides real-time credit decisions.
The lendtech provider’s e-commerce credit plugin integrates seamlessly with shopping cart functionalities including Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, and Craft Commerce.
In February 2019, the leading interest-free-only credit partner secured over £60 million of equity investment and debt financing from prominent private equity investors and UK banks to support the development of its market-leading technology and leverage it as a lender.
The company has announced the release of its new eBook, “How to attract customers with interest-free credit: A retailer’s guide to offering credit with confidence.” Jo Balsamo, Chief Marketing Officer for DivideBuy said: “e-commerce sales have soared since the onset of the pandemic, and so has the demand for new and alternative methods of payment, such as interest-free credit. This research comes at a pivotal time in the retailer landscape, demonstrating that there is a bounty of opportunities, but not all retailers know how to harness them.”
Founder: Mark Popkiewicz
Founded year: 2008
London-based Mirriad is an in-content advertising solution with a unique fusion of data, technology, AI, culture and creativity that enables complete control to curate the perfect moment in content. It’s AI and computer vision technology creates new space within existing video content that creators can seamlessly populate with products, campaigns and artwork. With its platform, advertisers can reach large target audiences in a contextually relevant way without interrupting the viewing experience.
CEO: James Whitticase
Founded year: 2000
The Milton-based healthcare startup OBS Medical (Oxford BioSignals) is a spinout from Oxford University. It was formed to develop predictive algorithms for identifying instability in patients. The company is a leader in developing and providing predictive algorithms for identifying critical instability in patients that is not picked up by traditional methods.
The Visensia Safety Index includes features like early detection of patient deterioration; Medical Home monitoring for patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes, COPD, and BP. Other products include BioQT Cardiac Safety with Confidence, a fully automated ECG software tool for measuring QT prolongation.
Founder: Paul Taylor
Founded year: 2014
ThoughtMachine is a cloud-native core banking technology firm based in London. Its primary product and technology, called Vault, is a modern cloud-native core system for banks constrained by legacy technology. The platform’s scalable, secure, and flexible API-driven solution unlocks the banking industry’s ability to innovate and offer customised products and personalised customer experiences while ensuring security, cost-effectiveness, and virtually zero downtime.
In April this year, the company tied up with fellow fintech group Wise to bring its international transfer services to businesses around the world. “We have built a world-class financial technology partner ecosystem which our clients can tap into as they build a future-proof bank,” Paul Taylor, CEO of Thought Machine had said announcing the development earlier this year.
In July last year, the startup raised $42 million (nearly £85 million) Series B funding from Eurazeo Growth alongside British Patient Capital and Thought Machine customer SEB to grow rapidly to serve its target markets.
Founders: Shane Legg, Demis Hassabis
Founded year: 2010
The London-headquartered AI lab was acquired by Google in 2014 for around $600 million. The multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, machine learning experts, and more is working together to solve intelligence to advance science and humanity.
Best-known for developing AlphaGo, the first programme to beat a world champion at the complex game of Go, the startup has published over 1000 research papers – including more than a dozen in Nature and Science – and achieved breakthrough results in many challenging AI domains from StarCraft II to protein folding.
The company has now said it will soon release a database of the shape of every protein known to science — more than 100 million.
Founders: Daniel Kroening, Peter Schrammel
Founded year: 2016
Oxford-based Diffblue is a spin-out from the University of Oxford. The startup is the result of a decade’s worth of research and is applying AI to software development. They are the creators of the world’s first AI for code solution that automates writing unit tests for Java. The platform’s pioneering technology is based on reinforcement learning, the same machine learning strategy that powered AlphaGo. Its customers include Goldman Sachs and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Back in 2017, the company raised $22 million (nearly £16 million) in Series A funding round led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategy Investments and drew participation from Oxford Sciences Innovations (OSI), and the Oxford Technology and Innovations Fund (OTIF).
Founders: John O’Malia, Andreas Hartmann
Founded year: 2016
London-based VAIX enables consumer-facing internet businesses to utilise the power of AI and machine learning for their customers and operations. It is on a mission to use AI and AI agents to transform human capability and business opportunities. The platform’s next-generation solutions use AI in innovative ways to empower human ingenuity and creativity.
Our relationship managers are experienced in the tech sector and are keen to support further growth of this vibrant industry. Please get in touch today to discuss how we might help your business, too.
Darren Cable, Area Director Technology, Media and Creative at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking 07841 780 343 || [email protected]
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