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Where are the Machine Learning Hotspots in the UK?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago
  • Author:by Talia Allos

The United Kingdom has always been a global leader in technology innovation. 

It’s no surprise, then, that last year, it ranked 3rd in the world for its emerging Artificial Intelligence industry (Source: Business Wire). 

By 2035, the industry is predicted to add $880 billion to the UK’s economy, and, to continue driving its success, financial and human resources in the sector are already being funnelled into Machine Learning hubs across the country. 


When competitors gather, they create profitable “hotspots” for international investors and worldwide talent alike. 

What is Machine Learning?

“Machine Learning” refers to the algorithm that allows Artificial Intelligence to learn from its surroundings, much like the human brain does. Why is Machine Learning important for the future of AI?

Machine Learning is encouraging the ongoing adoption of Artificial Intelligence by companies outside of the sector. 

Current customers worry that AI will not be able to scale as they do, but Machine Learning negates this. If individual Artificial Intelligence systems can develop and adapt to market changes, business potential becomes unlimited.

Where are the Machine Learning Hotspots in the UK?

Today, there are more than 2000 AI-centric businesses in operation across the UK. The majority of these have employees dedicated to advancing Machine Learning capabilities, creating job opportunities namely in Data Science, Data Analysis, and Engineering roles. 

Despite the current demand for remote work that allows these firms to operate from anywhere, there are clear hotspots developing where competitors can benefit from legal coopetition - attracting talent from all around the world. 

While it’s easy to assume that the majority of these companies have orientated towards London, the UK’s “Tech North” initiative is ensuring there are attractive job opportunities and startup climates in cities like Leeds or Manchester and even as far as Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Machine Learning Hotspots in South UK

Hotspot 1: London

London is 4th in the world for annual total venture capital investment into technology, and roughly 600 (35%) AI businesses have head offices in the city. Due to the high cost of living and a regional minimum wage, entry and experienced workers can benefit from competitive salaries.

Hotspot 2: Bristol

Innovative startups in Bristol make it one of the UK's fastest-growing tech cities that multiple AI firms call home. Last year, the area saw £98.8 million of investment and “the number of ‘unicorn’ companies worth over $1bn in Bristol’s burgeoning tech sector [is] predicted to double to six over the coming years.” (Source: Business Live).

Hotspot 3: Oxford

As a famous research hub, Oxford has become a Machine Learning hotspot that hires students right out of graduation from the local University. It lays claim to multiple big names in the sector, including biotech firm Exscienta.

Hotspot 4: Cambridge

Cambridge has some of the best Artificial Intelligence labs in the country, and the University itself has previously been awarded €1.9m in funding to stop AI from “undermining core human values.” (Source: Cambridge University). This is an essential undertaking that will help secure the ongoing adoption of Machine Learning, and experts and companies alike have flocked to join in on the project. 

Hotspot 5: Birmingham

Second in the country, Birmingham has always had a strong technology and digital sector. In 2020, an international Machine Learning company - Sidetrade - promised an investment totalling £30 million (Source: FinTech Times) into the city, and, due to this, the industry will continue scaling.

Machine Learning Hotspots in North UK

Hotspot 1: Edinburgh

Roughly 20 of the UK’s best Machine Learning firms are based in Edinburgh and are expected to undergo huge growth. Already, these businesses are averaging between 10-49 employees, unlike many small south UK startups that are struggling to scale due to high competition for talent.

Hotspot 2: Glasgow

The Artificial Intelligence sector in Glasgow is thriving. Multiple large businesses (such as Seebyte) are driving advancements in Machine Learning and, in particular, Deep Learning. In 2022, we anticipate the ongoing technological development of software for industries such as Energy, Data, and, of course, Finance.

Hotspot 3: Leeds

As of early 2021, the tech sector in Leeds was attracting $43.5 million in international venture capital, and, in part, this can be attributed to the ongoing advancement of Machine Learning companies in the area. 

To secure future growth, Machine Learning firms need to secure reliable recruitment channels to fill the 400 open positions (Source: Indeed). Thankfully, the three well-accredited Universities in the area should provide an ongoing supply of young and enthusiastic workers.

Hotspot 4: Manchester

A Manchester-based startup, The Modular Analytics, has recently made headlines by raising £1.5 million of investment to “support its next stage of growth.” (Source: Prolific North). Ongoing innovation has allowed the city to become a recognized name in the world of Machine Learning, especially as industry-leading Digicia is based here. 

Hotspot 5: Liverpool

Students at Liverpool have designed out-performing AI algorithms that have broken national records - and this promises an exciting future for Machine Learning in Liverpool. The hotspot has been booming recently because of the number of local research hubs and the city’s focus on providing “learn as you get paid” entry-level jobs. 

Finding Your Next Job in Machine Learning

Machine Learning is an industry with a CAGR of 33.6% worldwide and shows no sign of slowing (Source: Digital Journal). For talent in technology and digital spaces, therefore, this creates a promising career path with thousands of companies across the UK. 

In-demand positions across sectors like MedTech, FinTech, and even Retail include:

  • Machine Learning Engineers

  • Artificial Intelligence Engineers

  • Data Analysts

  • Data Scientists

And, whether you’re located near a Machine Learning hotspot or not, remote working capabilities allow qualified candidates up and down the country to contribute to the future of Artificial Intelligence. 

About Xcede

Xcede are global recruitment specialists who source employees for a range of dynamic machine learning engineer job positions, selecting the top talent for every single one of our clients looking to fill employee gaps. Our dedication to finding experienced candidates with the right qualifications allows businesses to foster growth and continue scaling.