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Top 10 British AI entrepreneurs amassed a $3 billion fortune in 2023

 (Inflection AI)
(Inflection AI)

The 10 richest British AI entrepreneurs now have a combined net worth of more than £2.3 billion ($3 billion), according to new analysis by the Evening Standard, in a sign that the UK’s growing artificial intelligence industry is set to generate huge wealth for the economy.

At least one in five of the top 100 richest tech entrepreneurs is now a founder or director of an AI business, according to the Evening Standard Tech Rich List, after a surge in investor interest over the course of the past year led to skyrocketing company valuations.

Those businesses include Inflection AI, a firm setup by British entrepreneur and Deepmind co-founder Mustafa Suleymen, which is now valued at $4 billion; Quantexa, a London-based decision intelligence platform that was valued at $1.8 billion in an April funding round, and FiveAI, a driverless software business which was bought by German firm Bosch last year for 120 million euros.

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The Evening Standard Tech Rich List is a ranking of the top 100 wealthiest British founders and directors of tech companies, first published in March 2023 to highlight the growth in entrepreneurial tech talent in the UK. The wealth estimate models use real-time markets data to keep valuations up to date.

There are now at least 20 AI firms whose British co-founders or directors have a net worth of at least £25 million, according to the Tech Rich List. A number of academics also appear on the rich list, in signs that universities are a key catalyst behind the UK’s fastest-growing AI companies. These include Lourdes Agapito, a professor at UCL, Dr Stephen Allpress at Bristol University’s faculty of engineering, and Paul Newman, the founder of the Oxford Robotics institute.

London-based Mati Staniszewski, whose AI audio generation start-up Eleven Labs hit a $100 million valuation in June, said: “It’s exciting. Last year we approached tens of investors, and we were rejected by most of them — all the attention was on the metaverse and crypto companies. But this year everyone around us is so interested in AI, and we had loads of investors come to us. You have to take a big amount of money on board which brings a lot of responsibility… that was stressful. There’s just so much intensity in this space.”

The UK already has 27 AI unicorns, more than Germany and France combined, according to the 2023 State of AI Report by tech investor Air Street Capital, while around a fifth of the most-cited academic research on AI globally was written here. In total, some 1400 companies with “AI” in their name were set up in the UK since the start of the year, more than triple the number set up in 2022, according to data from Companies House.

Megha Prakash, senior investor at venture capital firm Forward Partners, said: “There is a bit of a gold rush as there always is when new waves like this happen. A lot of the premium for investing in these firms is based on FOMO and froth, but there is a body of consensus that sees this as a new opportunity.”