The voice of UK tech startups

The UK’s AI Startup Roadmap

Today with Onward and the TBI we’ve launched our AI Startup Roadmap – read the full report here.

The report is authored by Kir Nuthi, Allan Nixon, and Benedict Macon-Cooney.

If the UK Government succeeds in harnessing our AI sector, the benefits will be huge. Successfully unleashing AI could help us cure diseases, transform public services, and accelerate our sluggish economic growth – potentially adding £400 billion in economic value by 2030. But if the Government’s approach disproportionately hinders the UK economy’s ability to adopt AI across other sectors, or is complacent about growing the AI sector itself, we could see the UK quickly lose ground to other nations and miss out on these benefits.

One thing is clear: we will not succeed without startups. That is why Startup Coalition, Onward, and the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) have come together to deliver the AI Project: to better understand what the UK’s world-beating AI startups need to succeed in the new AI age.

The overarching lesson we learnt from the UK’s AI startups was that as the Government develops its approach to AI we have to keep the tried-and-tested basics in mind. Across capital, talent, compute, and compliance, we have yet to really nail the fundamentals: accessing capital throughout the lifecycle, hiring and bringing the best and brightest talent possible, competing on compute and data infrastructure internationally, and navigating the regulatory environment.

To address these challenges, we have compiled “The UK’s AI Startup Roadmap” for the Government. Implementing these steps as quickly as possible will put the UK in prime position to succeed and cement its place as a global AI leader.


The TL;DR of our Roadmap Recommendations:


Investment Recommendations


  • Deliver on the implementation of the Mansion House Compact – and go further


  • Renew EIS beyond 2025, review the Financial Health Requirement, and increase HMRC’s EIS/SEIS capacity to tackle bureaucracy


  • Reform R&D tax credits by creating one unified RDEC scheme, with a £30k de minimis threshold and 20% relief level (33% for deeptechs)


Talent Recommendations


  • Expand the HPI Visa to better target AI and startup talent, through a focus on bespoke sub-categories or entrepreneurial potential


  • Negotiate a reciprocal agreement with US to add them to Youth Mobility Schemes


  • Urgently clarify plans for the Global Talent Visa fix and simplify the endorsement system for the Innovator Founder Visas


  • Simplify the spinout system by reforming how TTOs operate and create a two-tiered model for university equity stake


Compute Recommendations


  • Grow the compute menu by increasing national compute capacity, getting better compute partnerships, addressing supply side barriers, and preparing for the next era of compute


  • Create new R&D initiatives for compute alternatives and develop new acceleration programmes for quantum technologies


Regulatory Recommendations


  • Successfully implement the sectoral approach to AI by scaling up regulator capacity as quickly as possible


  • Work with regulators to issue AI-specific guidance for intermediary liability, digital competition, copyright, and more


  • Work with like-minded global partners to pursue international regulatory convergence post AI Summit


  • Accelerate regulatory sandbox plans and ensure introduction of central cross-regulator AI sandbox


You can read the full report here.

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