Five years ago, we created RAAIS to bring together a unique cross-section of the AI ecosystem spanning entrepreneurs, researchers and operators. The common thread running through the RAAIS community is the collective ambition to create impact, both in research and industry. At our 5th annual RAAIS forum on Friday 28th June 2019, we hosted 220 representatives from big technology companies, startups and academic institutions for a one-day deep dive into the science and applications of AI technology. We featured four sessions: life sciences, AI hardware, privacy-preserving machine learning, AI research and infrastructure.
RAAIS is currently hosted in London’s King’s Cross, a bustling area that is home to a diverse cross-section of the technology, media and life sciences world: Google, DeepMind, The Francis Crick Institute, Havas, Central St Martin’s art school, The Alan Turing Institute, Facebook, Apple Music, Universal, YouTube and the Guardian Media Group.
While RAAIS is London-based, our community is truly international. We received >1,200 applications to attend RAAIS 2019, a third of which came from outside the UK and Europe.
creating networks to scale expertise
Over the past five years, RAAIS has hosted many ambitious entrepreneurs and talented researchers who continue to achieve exceptional impact in their respective fields. What’s special about RAAIS is that our speakers and members are truly peers, eager to learn from one another and support each other’s journey to propel industry and AI research forward in a positive way.
In just the last 12 months, former RAAIS speakers have achieved remarkable milestones. This includes raising a combined $750M in venture financing, listing on the New York Stock Exchange, successfully existing to Facebook and being appointed to major AI research councils:
funding the future - and europe’s unique role
The European technology industry has flourished over the past decade. A new ecosystem with both sophisticated and sustainable financing is emerging. This will have a major impact on Europe and Britain's AI fortunes for years to come.
The context is important. At a time of Brexit and a US-China trade war, everyone wonders what Europe’s -- and in particular, the UK’s -- role will be in the global economy. Some count it out. Others argue that it will be a leader in ethical business, leveraging the EU’s tough privacy rules implemented last year. But the reality will probably be different:
In the past, the main driver was the excellent universities like Oxbridge, Imperial and UCL. They trained the talent that now works at leading US technology companies. But now there’s much more happening. In the last 18 months, US technology companies have made deep inroads into the UK ecosystem to strengthen their AI products.
Consider: Lyft acquired Blue Vision Labs for 3D map creation, Niantic acquired Matrix Mill for real-world mobile AR, Facebook acquired Bloomsbury.AI for natural language expertise and DeepMind Healthcare was folded into the parent company’s healthcare unit.
What’s more, large financing rounds are increasingly available to the best technology companies building intelligent systems in their products. Graphcore secured a $200M Series D, Darktrace closed a $50M Series E, and UiPath raised close to $1B in three rounds over a 12-month period.
RAAIS was created 5 years ago and the community is thriving because the stakes have never been higher. We are in a period of incredible transformation. The economy is changing. Governance is in flux. And the only way we can tackle our toughest societal challenges is with the help of powerful technologies such as AI -- workable, safe, ethical AI. That is where Europe’s unique strengths lie, at the fulcrum between China and America’s AI rivalry. And it starts with understanding the space where the lab bench meets the business plan -- “research” and “applied” AI, which RAAIS is all about.
So thank you for being a part of the RAAIS community, now in its fifth year. Let’s get started!