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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Cambridge crowned UK’s most AI-ready city

Cambridge has been named UK’s most AI-ready city, a spot previously held by Oxford. This is after the university city scored highest in the AI-readiness index developed by AI and analytics specialist SAS.



SAS uses 7 criteria to develop the index. These include the number of AI-related MSc courses and job ads, tech meet-ups and the amount of investment from Innovate UK in a town or city.


Contributing to the high score is the fact that Cambridge has the most amount of AI-related jobs within a 5-mile radius and a 43% five-year business growth rate. It also had the second highest volume of research and development spending.


Another factor considered when creating the index is GDP per head and Cambridge was at the top of the list. The city scored 415 points of the available 700.


Oxford City occupied second place with 356 points and the main reason for that is its low five-year business growth rate. It is estimated to have a 10% growth rate which is the lowest of all the cities making up the top 10 of the index.


Manchester City took the third spot with 337 points and it looks well poised to compete in the AI space. The city has a better 5-year business growth rate than Oxford and is currently offering 3 AI-related MSc courses. The city also has one of the highest numbers of available jobs.


Salford came in fourth with Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Coventry and Peterborough completing the top ten in that specific order.


Collectively, the top 10 cities were found to have over 4,000 AI-related jobs which is an indicator of increased demand for people with data skills.


“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,” noted Glyn Townsend, Senior Director of Education Services at SAS for Europe, Middle East and Africa


The index by SAS has also helped shed light and reveal parts of the UK are least prepared to utilise AI to its full potential and have thus locked themselves from benefiting from the job security and investment growth it brings.


“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,” Townsend added.

He then went on to reveal that the UK doesn’t have enough data talent to meet the demand for AI and thus the need to create more avenues for people to upgrade their existing skills instead of relying on graduates.


“Government figures show there are up to 234,000 data vacancies, yet only a potential supply of 10,000 graduates per year,” Townsend explained. “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.”


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