We’re in the golden time of the information age, as many business leaders across the UK realise the potential of artificial intelligence for transforming industries such as healthcare, education, finance and manufacturing.
With AI likely to contribute billions of pounds to the UK’s GDP and increase it by 7 per cent over a decade, organisations across the UK need to establish their own approach to utilising the technology to grow the country’s economy.
In healthcare, artificial intelligence can speed up diagnoses, drug discovery, and even help improve patient flow through hospitals. For manual processing tasks, AI and cloud analytics can be used to quickly digest, decipher and analyse the data set - reducing the need for office workers to spend hours manually sorting through data.
This year the UK government published a whitepaper - A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation – which outlines its approach and commitment to “unleashing AI’s potential across the economy”.
The government is planning its ‘Levelling Up’ scheme to “spread opportunity and prosperity” across all parts of the UK. As a result, all regions and local authorities need investment and training opportunities if the government is to realise its plans.
What’s the current status of AI across the UK?
We’ve created the SAS AI Cities 2023 Index, which builds on a similar ranking exercise we did last year to establish which cities and London boroughs are leading the way in the UK in terms of being the most AI-ready, and which need more support.
SAS looked at seven key indicators, including:
- The value of InnovateUK projects in each area between 2022 and 2025.
- The number of AI companies in the city.
- The number of AI-related jobs currently advertised.
- The number of MeetUp AI-related events in each city.
- The average life satisfaction of residents in each city.
- The number of university courses which feature AI as part of the module.
- The number of international flights within a 90-minute drive of the city, per day.
SAS gave every city and London borough an index score for each separate data point, with equal weighting, to calculate an overall index score out of 700.
The most AI-ready cities and London boroughs
Edinburgh came top in the index as the most AI-ready city. It’s the universities that helped Scotland’s capital city to thrive, as it’s home to the highest number of courses that feature an AI element.
Universities in Edinburgh are making waves in AI innovation. InnovateUK has awarded multiple grants worth millions of pounds to University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Napier, alongside other organisations such as NHS Lothian.
The University of Edinburgh also recently released research that could be “transformational” in improving heart attack diagnosis, using an algorithm developed from AI.
Edinburgh beat Cambridge to the post - which has dropped from first place in the SAS AI Cities Index in 2022, to second. Cambridge had the highest number of AI-related job roles available within its vicinity.
Oxford, also known for its prestigious university, was third in our index, also benefiting from its proximity to UK airports for easy travel to other destinations.
Birmingham, in fourth, is also a magnet for the UK’s talent pool, with 83 AI-related companies registered there and a high volume of career opportunities for AI experts and software developers.
Outside of London, Manchester fared the best for companies registered in the city, helping it to place sixth in the rankings.
Though outside of the top 10, there were other cities that have high levels of investment from InnovateUK, including Coventry, Glasgow and Derby which all had investments granted of over £50 million.