Tech Nation, has announced the 32 companies that have been selected to join the Applied AI Growth programme and reveals new data that shows the UK leads Europe for AI investment.

The programme has been designed to champion and support the UK’s most exceptional deep tech scaleups through peer-to-peer learning and mentoring sessions, addressing the particular scaling challenges for companies in the AI sector. The programme forms part of the Government’s AI Sector Deal, announced in 2019 to realise the social and economic benefits of AI and harness its potential to transform people’s lives for the better.

Okko Health is bringing real-time monitoring of eye health into the hands of patients and linking straight to eye care professionals. OKKO’s software allows patients to self-monitor their sight between in-person hospital visits, through interpreting interactions with a simple video game. It flags those people who may be having problems with their vision ahead of time, to promote early diagnosis, early treatment and to save sight.

Stephanie Campbell, Founder of OKKO Health, comments: “OKKO Health are thrilled to be joining Tech Nation’s Applied AI cohort this year – we’re looking forward to ’thinking big’ with other founders and building the AI that will power the future of eye care at home.”

One Big Circle is improving safety and operations in industrial environments. Initially developed in the UK rail sector, their intelligent video solution applies Machine Learning to understand environments to raise alerts and increase efficiency and safety. For example, they use thermal camera technology and ML to identify excess heat in sections of electric rail which could cause a dangerous fault.

Emily Kent, Co-Founder of One Big Circle, comments: “Being awarded a place in the Applied AI cohort fills us with great excitement. To have our work to date, and the potential of what we are doing in rail and transport recognised by Tech Nation is real validation. We are very much looking forward to the journey – meeting others doing great things in AI, sharing experiences and making further progress.”

59% of companies joining the programme are based outside of London. 44% of companies on the programme have a female founder, almost double the representation of female tech directors (23%) in UK tech. 34% of companies are applying AI to the construction industry, while 28% are using AI to solve healthcare challenges.

The UK leads Europe in AI investment, having raised $1.48bn in 2020 so far, in front of France ($538.83m) and Germany ($400.25m). The UK is currently third in the world for VC investment in AI after the US ($17.94bn) and China ($9.55bn)1.

Looking into sub-sectors, the majority of AI investment so far this year flows into Big Data ($872.42m), TMT ($712.96m), SaaS ($588.39m), and Fintech ($474.65m). AI investment in Mobility Tech has already surpassed 2019 levels by 240%, whilst Fintech is already up by 120%, SAAS by 36% and Cyber Security by 10%.

Demand for AI skills is continuing to rise in the UK, with an increase of 111% between 2017 and 2019. A quarter (25%) of all Data Scientist roles advertised in 2019 required AI as a skill, this was the highest proportion seen amongst digital tech roles in 20192.

The 32 AI companies joining the Applied AI Growth Programme represent some of the best AI scaleups in the UK, having gone through a competitive and rigorous judging process. The programme will support companies to scale up and become the AI unicorns of the future. AI is already a strategic strength to the UK economy, with 1,344 AI companies and a number of well-known and established AI unicorns, including Darktrace, Benevolent AI and Graphcore.

The programme received 179 applications from across the UK and judges included Sana Khareghani, Head of the UK Government Office for AI; Tabitha Goldstaub, Chair of UK Government AI Council; Nathan Benaich, General Partner, Air Street Capital and Dr Mike Short CBE, Chief Scientific Advisor, DIT. Wilson Sonsini and CBRE are partners for the Applied AI 2.0 programme. Their experience and knowledge working alongside scaling companies will provide insight on international expansion and property management throughout the programme.