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Northern Ireland: location of choice for AI businesses in the UK

By: Julia Fitzgerald, Senior Account Manager, Jargon Group Cardiff


It’s no secret that AI is increasingly a big part of modern life: not just in our news feeds but also in our homes, workplaces, on our roads and influencing many other aspects of our everyday lives.


Living in a digital age took on a whole new meaning when artificial intelligence entered the picture. Despite the news hailing it as a new development, in fact the focus on AI and the creation of AI tools has been going on for many years, decades even. As a result, it should surprise no-one that we are already seeing AI deliver wide societal benefits, from medical advances to actions in mitigation of climate change.


The home of AI


Here in the UK, a hotspot for AI businesses is Northern Ireland, with a governmental white paper stating that the Province is predicted to lead the way with ‘A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation’.


Northern Ireland already offers a record of expertise in AI and Data Analytics across a wide range of sectors. The region is globally renowned for its workforce skilled in cost effective software analysis, design and development. Its global reputation can be attributed to this combination of talent, tech research excellence and highly competitive cost base.


Northern Ireland is arguably therefore, in the vanguard of the UK’s approach to artificial intelligence, addressing both the challenges and opportunities it brings. However, it needs to invest in developing skills and capabilities in artificial intelligence if it is to take advantage of the huge advances in the sector globally and benefit from a market which is expected to be worth $110 billion globally by 2030. 


AI as an opportunity


Artificial intelligence will have a transformative impact on business and society in the coming years. This is evident from the thousands of students applying for IT and Computing-related degree courses and the hundred studying artificial intelligence specifically at institutions across the UK. The increased awareness of the sector as evidenced by the almost daily recent coverage around ChapGPT, points to a bright future for graduates able to work on creating and curating artificial intelligence driven systems and products.


Those in work across Northern Ireland are already witnessing how AI can support their daily work resulting in the emergence of human-machine partnerships in many workplaces. But more work needs to be done: One of the first steps that leaders in Northern Ireland must take to ensure the rate of progress on AI adoption is maintained, is to review and structure their collective data management requirements. With AI entirely reliant on the quality and currency of data, there is a pressing need for Northern Ireland businesses, and indeed all businesses across the UK, to have access to the computing power to manage it effectively. Quantum computing will begin to address this obstacle.


2024: a year of significant change and opportunity


Although 2024 will undoubtedly bring change, the future is bright for AI in Northern Ireland and the province is set to benefit from its focus on developing emerging technologies in terms of encouraging and sustaining growth.


By putting technology at the heart of transformation, organisations in Northern Ireland will continue to innovate and advance developing new approaches, products, services and opportunities. Satisfying existing demand and creating new markets is the name of the game and they show every sign of being up to the task.


I believe there is an exciting year ahead.

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