The State of AI 2019: Divergence


The State of AI 2019: Divergence



As Artificial Intelligence (AI) proliferates, a divide is emerging. Between nations and within industries, winners and losers are emerging in the race for adoption, the war for talent and the competition for value creation.

The landscape for entrepreneurs is also changing. Europe’s ecosystem of 1,600 AI startups is maturing and bringing creative destruction to new industries. While the UK is the powerhouse of European AI, hubs in Germany and France are thriving and  may extend their influence in the decade ahead.

As new AI hardware and software make the impossible inevitable, we also face divergent futures. AI offers profound benefits but poses significant risks. Which future will we choose?

Our State of AI report for 2019 empowers entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investors and policy-makers. While jargon-free, our Report draws on unique data and 400 discussions with ecosystem participants to go beyond the hype and explain the reality of AI today, what is to come and how to take advantage. Every chapter includes actionable recommendations.

Part 1: The Age of AI

We provide an accessible introduction to AI and its applications.

  • AI is a way for software to perform difficult tasks more effectively, by learning through practice instead of following rules.
  • AI is important because, for the first time, traditionally human capabilities
    can be undertaken in software efficiently, inexpensively and at scale.
  • AI capability has reached an inflection point. After seven false dawns since
    the 1950s, AI technology has come of age.
  • AI has numerous, tangible use cases. We describe 31 across eight industries
    and highlight why some industries will be affected more than others.

Part 2: The State of AI

We explain the state of AI adoption, technology and talent in 2019.

  • Adoption of AI has tripled in 12 months; AI may be the fastest paradigm shift in technology history. Increasing adoption masks a growing divergence between leaders and laggards. Globally, China leads the race for AI adoption, while sector adoption of AI is uneven and in a state of flux.
  • Advances in AI technology are creating new possibilities. Custom silicon is enabling a new generation of AI hardware. Emerging software techniques, including reinforcement learning and transfer learning, are delivering breakthroughs in multiple domains and freeing system design from the constraints of human experience. New, generative AI will reshape media and society.
  • Demand for AI talent has doubled in 24 months. Talent, while increasing, remains in short supply with two roles available for every AI professional. Technology and financial service companies are absorbing 60% of AI talent and causing a ‘brain drain’ from academia. Companies can better attract talent by re-aligning opportunities to professionals’ motivations.

Part 3: The AI Disruptors

Drawing on unique analysis, we explore the dynamics of Europe’s AI startups.

  • Europe is home to 1,600 AI startups. AI entrepreneurship is becoming mainstream; one in 12 new startups put AI at the heart of their value proposition.
  • Europe’s AI ecosystem is maturing; one in six companies is a ‘growth’-stage company. Expect competition, exits and the recycling of capital and talent.
  • The UK is the powerhouse of European AI, with a third of the Continent’s startups, but Germany and France are flourishing hubs and may extend their influence in the decade ahead.
  • Healthcare is a focal point for AI entrepreneurship. Activity is thriving given new, transformational opportunities for process automation through AI, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Competition for talent, the limited availability of training data, and the difficulty of creating production-ready technology are entrepreneurs’ key challenges.

Part 4: Our AI Future

We explain AI’s profound implications for companies and societies in the
decade ahead.

  • AI will broaden participation in markets, cause shifts in sector value chains and accelerate cycles of innovation and creative destruction.
  • AI will disrupt business models, require new corporate competencies and change companies’ competitive positioning.
  • AI offers societies significant benefits and risks. AI will transform healthcare, broaden access to goods and services, and increase industrial and agricultural productivity. However, automation may displace jobs while biased AI systems increase inequality. AI will enable the high-tech surveillance state, while autonomous weapons could increase conflict between nations.

Get in touch

At MMC Ventures, AI is a core area of research, conviction and investment. In the last 24 months we’ve made 20 investments, comprising 50% of the capital we have invested, into many of the UK’s most promising AI companies. If you’re an early stage AI company, get in touch to see how we can accelerate your journey.




Barclays is delighted to partner with MMC Ventures for ‘The State of AI 2019’. Developments in AI are transforming business and society, changing how we live and work. We believe everyone should benefit from these changes. We’re committed to ensuring that new technologies are responsibly designed and accessible to all.

AI can enhance our customers’ experiences, improve our operational processes and keep our customers safe. Our collaborations with universities, startups and enterprises help us support the latest innovations.

Our AI Frenzy events have united 4,500 AI academics, practitioners, experts and anyone with an interest in AI, while our community of AI Eagles teach colleagues, customers and local communities about AI. Through our national network of Eagle Labs, we offer access to technologies delivering Industry 4.0 – the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

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