Supporting AI-focused start-ups is crucial for the economy

A House of Lords Select Committee report published earlier this year recommended an artificial intelligence (AI) code to shape the technology positively for the public’s benefit.

The Chair of the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, Lord Clement-Jones, highlighted the importance of investment in AI so that the UK remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop the technology.

However, he added that start-ups can struggle to scale up without help and so the report recommends a growth fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and changes to the immigration system to ensure the best talent comes to the UK.

More recently, Lord Clement-Jones reiterated how crucial funding is for AI start-ups if they are to scale, compete and drive growth, as well as the importance of a talent pipeline.

He said he was “buoyed” by a flexible and innovative grass-roots culture in the UK, where many companies are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities from AI but added that later-stage finance can be a “real challenge” for new businesses wishing to scale-up.

The peer insisted that the Government must be willing to commit to underwriting of replacing funding after the UK leaves the European Union and to ensure that UK also has access to talent and people with “the skills required for the future.” As he commented, a skills shortage would be damaging, while the wrong immigration policy could be of “serious detriment” to the UK’s ambitions in this space.

His words were echoed by the Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, whose spokesman said that the organisation will work with the Government and other stakeholders to increase awareness among businesses of the new opportunities presented by the industrial strategy.

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