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UK businesses call for increased government investment in AI sector
Thu, 21st Dec 2023

According to a survey conducted by Zoho Corporation, 43% of United Kingdom businesses have requested increased governmental investment in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector.

The survey revealed sentiments regarding AI skills, training, regulation and applications in the wake of the UK's inaugural AI Safety Summit held at Bletchley Park.

The survey, which was responded to by businesses of various sizes, revealed that 43% of respondents would like the government to enhance funding for businesses working on AI technologies, to spur innovation as the UK aims to become a global pioneer in the AI field.

This complemented the perspective of 71% of businesses which held the belief that the UK is the leading technology hub, aligning with the Government’s ambition to evolve into a Science and Technology Superpower.

Sachin Agrawal, the Managing Director of Zoho UK, remarked, "The AI Safety Summit was a great starting point for addressing AI and the concerns that surround it."

"Bringing together the best intelligence and influencers from around the world was highly commendable and provided an opportunity for much needed conversations to be had. We are looking forward to seeing how they progress in the coming months and years as developing technology continues to present both benefits, and risks."

Moreover, the survey indicated that 46% of UK respondents want increased regulation from the Government in order to protect businesses from the potential threat of AI, with 39% supporting more regulation for the safe development of AI.

Agrawal added, "AI has been highlighted as a key priority, proving itself as a useful tool to assist in key business areas such as customer service, fraud detection or the provision of fast in depth insights to help businesses make quick decisions and remain agile.” However, he noted that fears around bias, job loss and data protection remain and these uncertainties should be addressed.

Agrawal pointed out that AI-usage involved building trust and safeguarding customer data via establishing proper policies and guidelines as well as imparting business training to ensure the technology is used responsibly.

He acknowledged that the Safety Summit had laid a good groundwork for AI development, but also emphasised that ongoing efforts are required from the government, industry, and academia for developing AI-based business applications effectively.

Further, the survey pinpointed an ongoing skills shortage and a need for better AI training and skills, with 30% of respondents suggesting the government should offer training courses and guidance to support workforces in better understanding and utilising AI. Subsequently, the government announced a £118 million boost to AI skills funding aiming to address these concerns.

Agrawal expressed optimism about the future, “Another positive step has been the £500 million AI funding announced in the Autumn Statement, and we hope to see more guidance more around how this will be deployed and the impact this investment will have on businesses."

The survey, conducted prior to the AI Summit, was undertaken by independent polling agency Censuswide, commissioned by Zoho Corporation. A total of 306 senior digital transformation decision makers from various business sizes across the UK participated in the survey, setting a precedent for further discussion around the development, regulation, and the potential of AI in the country.