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Farming and Retail Industries Benefiting Most From AI Grants, Report Says

Organisations in the agriculture and retail sectors are taking most advantage of government grants to adapt to AI innovation, a new report has revealed.

The sectors topped the table for the funding amount offered per company within each industry from the national innovation agency, Innovate UK, with grants securing more than £500,000 on average.

AI and analytics leader, SAS, analysed the grants awarded to businesses across 12 sectors to identify the industries which have secured the most AI funding, based on the average grant per company, by industry.

A UK government report, published last year, found that there were more than 3,000 AI companies in the country, employing more than 50,000 people and contributing £3.7 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA).

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Grants awarded include £601,586 for a project to help retailers and ecommerce businesses use data analytics to protect from potential cyber-attacks.

Also included in the agriculture category were projects relating to engineering and the environment – many of which aim to improve sustainability, including developing energy-efficient homes.

In the retail sector, the majority of projects focused on ecommerce. As retail businesses accounted for 19% of all administrations in 2023, this could be a sign of the industry looking to innovate with AI to avoid closures in 2024.

Manufacturing came third for average grant per company (over £400,000) followed by HR (with just over £360,000).

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SAS’ study also revealed which sectors were receiving on average the lowest number of AI innovation grants. Bottom of the list was utilities, logistics and education – receiving around £80,000 and below per company on average.

Sector

Number of grants awarded

Average grant per company, per industry (£)

Agriculture

53

613,682.15

Retail

9

517,176.44

Manufacturing

85

406,788.69

HR

8

363,729.88

Healthcare

70

265,359.26

Finance

34

175,422.94

Technology

164

172,957.30

Law

10

134,708.30

Media

46

98,021.98

Education

152

80,942.57

Logistics

6

38,315.67

Prathiba Krishna, AI and Ethics Lead at SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“AI and machine learning are transformative technologies – and organisations are using them to develop innovative solutions that could address many of the big challenges we face today. The breadth and diversity of projects that have received funding through Innovate UK are a testament to the potential of data-led technologies, and with the right support and partnerships, we could see many more to come.

“Some companies have large-scale access to private investment opportunities, whether this be their own reserves, venture capitalists, crowdsourcing, or other forms of investment. However, this research highlights the sheer volume of businesses that have opportunities to leverage AI but need further support from government grants to fulfil their potential.

“Funding awarded by Innovate UK is a useful barometer for which sectors are most in need of support to adopt AI. However, analytics technology is becoming increasingly accessible to organisations of all sizes across all sectors, enabling them to realise its potential much sooner.”

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[To share your insights with us as part of editorial or sponsored content, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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