Oracle opts for UK AI expansion due to ‘wealth of local talent’

Connor Jones

15 Nov, 2018

Oracle has announced an expansion to its AI programme in the UK, pledging to double the size of its development team at its site in Reading.

The company said it will take advantage of the wealth of local talent available and hire a new generation of data scientists and architects.

Oracle’s industry-leading technology has benefited many businesses, including the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) which used Oracle’s AI tools help the NHS and other clients make better-informed treatment decisions for patients.

Using their DALL built using Oracle AI tools, the NHSBSA was able to retrieve £581 million of savings for the NHS to re-invest in patient care.

“Our expansion in the UK reflects the region’s strong technology talent,” said Oracle CEO Safra Catz. “The global AI development hub in Reading accelerates innovation and helps customers take advantage of these critical emerging technologies by making them pervasive throughout our cloud offerings.”

It’s the latest endorsement to the UK’s surging AI industry. In April, the UK Government announced its AI Sector Deal – a £1 billion funding package backed by 50 leading businesses and organisations. Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain has also announced its plans to open its European HQ in the UK and invest £35 million in British AI start-ups, while Vancouver-based Chrysalix has also pledged to plough £110 million into AI and robotics enterprises throughout the country.

Professional services firms Accenture and PwC agree that the country’s GDP will be 10.3% higher come 2030, so it’s no surprise the country is getting a massive surge of investment.

“We are already Europe’s leading tech hub, with global firms and thriving startups choosing the UK as the place to grow their business and create high-skilled jobs,” said UK Government Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright, in response to Oracle’s decision. “We are a world leader in artificial intelligence and our modern Industrial Strategy puts pioneering technologies at the heart of our plans to build a Britain fit for the future.”

However, recent reports suggest the UK faces a brain drain when it comes to technology students, particularly given the lure of highly paid jobs in the US. A report in September found that only one in seven post-graduate students or research graduates are joining a UK tech startup after their studies. Also, around a third of leading machine learning and AI specialists have left the UK for work at Silicon Valley tech companies.

The UK government is hoping to put a plaster over the bleeding talent in the country with its AI Sector deal which promises to invest £17 million into AI development at British universities.

“The UK is one of the world’s leading technology nations and is recognised as a place where ingenuity and entrepreneurship can flourish,” said Sam Gyimah, the Science Minister, speaking on the brain drain issue.

“We are a beacon for global talent, and as part of our modern industrial strategy, through our £1 billion AI sector deal, we are capitalising on the UK’s global advantage in artificial intelligence.”