Oxford, Bristol and Coventry named among the UK’s most AI-ready cities in new study

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Oxford, Bristol and Coventry could be among the first to benefit from a growing appetite for artificial intelligence (AI) in business and the public sector, new research has revealed.

Oxford placed second outside London, with Bristol seventh and Coventry ninth, in the AI-readiness Index devised by AI and analytics specialist SAS.

Cambridge topped the list.

The index is compiled from seven criteria, including the number of AI-related MSc courses and job ads, tech meet-ups and amount of investment from InnovateUK in a town or city.

However, the analysis also revealed which parts of the UK are least prepared to utilise AI to its full potential, and benefit from the jobs and investment it can bring.

While seven out of the least AI-ready cities are in the devolved nations, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff all appear in the top 15, with Edinburgh having the second highest number of AI-related courses overall.

Glyn Townsend, Senior Director of Education Services at SAS for Europe, Middle East and Africa said:

“AI, machine learning (ML) and data analytics are transforming the way businesses and other organisations operate, and the fact that so many cities are embracing it as a positive sign. Many, such as Manchester and Salford, are outside London and the South East, which is good news for the government’s ‘levelling up’ plans.

“At the same time, our research also shows large discrepancies between the most and least-prepared areas. Size and the remoteness of the location might explain why some are lagging behind – but it’s important they’re given opportunities to get up to speed.

“For a start, the UK doesn’t have enough data talent to meet demand for AI, so we need to increase the talent pool with more opportunities for people to upskill and reskill, instead of only relying on graduates.”

He added: “Government figures show there are up to 234,000 data vacancies, yet only a potential supply of 10,000 graduates per year. Instead of relying on graduates to fill the growing numbers of roles, it’s vital that employers help people build their skills with training, experience and invest in solutions that help them use their skills productively.”

The full report can be found at https://blogs.sas.com/content/hiddeninsights/2022/07/13/smart-cities-which-parts-of-the-uk-are-the-most-ai-ready/