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Octopus Ventures raises £120m to invest in UK AI startups

Alex Macpherson, Octopus Ventures

Prominent VC Octopus Ventures has raised a £120m tech investment fund to continue supporting AI startups in the UK.

Octopus Ventures has so far invested in 50 companies across many different verticals.

Its portfolio includes the likes of Swiftkey, bought by Microsoft in a $250m deal; Magic Pony, acquired by Twitter; LoveFilm, Zoopla and Kabbee.

Speaking to The Financial Times, Alex Macpherson, chief executive at Octopus Ventures, said: “We have expertise in the machine-learning field, but the challenge today is pretty much every business that comes through to us is machine learning or artificial intelligence.”

Octopus is currently looking to participate in the Seed rounds of two AI startups in the UK over the coming months.

The firm usually invests anything from £250,000 to £25m in the first round of funding and is often a contributor in follow-on rounds.

“Our whole concept is how can we help support British entrepreneurs to take their business the whole way, and not sell out to the Americans or others a bit too early,” Macpherson added.

The news comes amid increasing interest in the AI field and after consultancy firm Accenture estimated that artificial intelligence could potentially contribute £654bn to the UK national economy by 2035.