UK businesses struggling to keep up with AI?

UK businesses struggling to keep up with AI?

UHY Hacker Young’s recent study has revealed that, although UK businesses are keeping up in the world of blockchain, they are in danger of losing touch with filing for AI patents.

UHY Hacker Young has recently revealed the results of a study looking into the UK’s place in the world of technological developments, compared to other global leaders in the industry. It has become clear that UK businesses need to do more to keep up.

“If the UK is to maintain its strong position as a hub for new technology, the government needs to ensure more businesses patent their Intellectual Property,” said Andrew Snowdon, partner at UHY Hacker Young.

“Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence could unlock significant economic growth, and the UK is one of the world’s leaders for developing newer technologies.

“The UK has historically been at the forefront of research in the fields of both Artificial Intelligence and blockchain. As the home to companies such as DeepMind, Improbable, and 5AI, the UK continues to be a key leader in the development of these new technologies.

“However, the UK is beginning to lead behind its rival in developing and patenting some of these new technologies. With the formal Brexit date on the horizon, the government needs to ensure the UK remains an attractive place for tech businesses. This could include initiatives such as targeted tax credits designed to encourage increased research and development in this area.”

 In 2017, UK businesses filed 11% of all global blockchain patents, and currently rank fourth in the world with 34 patents from a total of 314 filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The firm reported that “no other country in the European Union makes it into the Top 10 countries for number of patents related to blockchain filed with WIPO.”

In comparison, Chinese businesses have managed to file 32% of all global patents for blockchain technology—thus more clearly investing heavily in blockchain. The Chinese central bank openly supports the development of blockchain-based trade finance platforms; this helps SMEs to access finance.

US businesses are not so far behind China at 29%, followed by Australian businesses at 13%.

However, the biggest filer of global blockchain patents was nChain—a “blockchain-focused research firm based in London and Vancouver, which filed 48 patents for blockchain technology at WIPO in 2017.”

It is important to note that, although many European businesses only filed a limited number of patents at a global level through WIPO, many “have been more active at a local level.”

When it comes to the development of patented AI, UHY Hacker Young’s study has revealed that, for the UK, it is a very different story. The UK filed just 2 patents from a total of 649 with WIPO last year—less than 1%.

The firm stated: “China is ahead of its global competitors by some distance in the race to build portfolios of intellectual property in Artificial Intelligence. Chinese businesses filed 473 out of the 649 Artificial Intelligence patents (31%) filed with WIPO last year.”

Meanwhile, Baidu (the “Google of China”) has filed 183 patents.

Despite this, the UK remains a “key hub” for the technology sector. “For example, major Artificial Intelligence company, DeepMind, is headquartered in London. It made headlines in January 2018 for developing the AlphaGo computer programme, which beat GO world champion, Lee Sedol, in a five-game match,” the firm revealed.

“Developing Artificial Intelligence technology is also going to be critical in determining which businesses will emerge as leaders from the next industrial revolution,” Snowdon added. “The UK government may need to consider proposals that offer more R&D tax credits for Artificial Intelligence development for businesses.”

The government has attempted to do just that. In April 2018, they announced the introduction of a £1bn funding packet to help increase R&D in AI. The aim of this package is to establish the UK “as a leading research hotspot, with money for training 8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funding Artificial Intelligence PhDs, and a commitment to developing a Turing Fellowship programme.”

Clive Gawthorpe, partner at UHY Hacker Young, concluded: “The businesses that are positioned best in the long-term are those that benefit from private enterprise and government both investing to bring Artificial Intelligence technology to mass markets.”

However, with technology constantly changing, improving, and encouraging innovation, UK businesses need to make sure that they are keeping up with the rest of the world.

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