Artificial Intelligence: mapping global AI communities

Tech Nation and data.world have worked together to map Artificial Intelligence business and innovation globally.

AI is a blossoming area of technology, not just in Europe, but across Asia and North America. This research provides clarity at a time when the rate of change in the area makes for a challenging but potentially highly rewarding business climate. Working in partnership with data.world, all data used in this publication is open and free for anyone to use (CC-BY-NC License).

This project has been divided into two sections. The first highlights the density of AI business globally, identifying hotspots of business activity and investment. The second explores online communities of AI, trends in innovation, and what AI practitioners are working on today.

The global AI business landscape

Data from Pitchbook, Google and Asgard

Artificial Intelligence is now a mainstream buzzword

Analysis of google search engine results reveals the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ has boomed in popularity over the past two years. Today, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is one of the most commonly searched technology terms on the internet. This is not to say the term had no traction before 2016. In fact, AI has been a common phrase online since Google began tracking this information in 2004. Phrases from the same subject space such as ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘Data Science’ have enjoyed a similar growth in popularity.

John McCarthy is credited with first coining the term in 1954, and later organised the first Artificial Intelligence conference in 1956.

AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence.

John McCarthy

The USA has the largest concentration of AI businesses, with almost 3000 active high growth businesses in the Artificial Intelligence space.

The AI VC market clearly indicates a hive of activity in the US ecosystem. Almost 8000 individual deals have been completed. To put it in perspective, the next largest hotspot for deals is the United Kingdom, where just over 1200 have taken place. This is not to say the US ecosystem is the strongest globally, but is more indicative of a high-growth scaling ecosystem.

Analysing the overall amount of capital invested reveals a different picture. Whilst the US again comes out on top, we see that China and Israel have high levels of capital investment. The capital invested in these two ecosystems is spread across far fewer companies compared to investment in the US. In particular, China is home to under 300 AI companies. Yet these are late-stage tech giants, unlike the startup ecosystem seen in the US.