UK vs EU, who is winning the battle to regulate AI and be the chosen home of AI start-ups?

Business Insights

By only providing its whitepaper compared to the EU's AI Act, the UK is at risk of falling further behind even after the success of the UK's AI Safety Summit

Claire Trachet, AI industry expert and CEO/Founder of Trachet, a leading business advisory firm, emphasises the need for a balance between innovation and regulation, discussing how far ahead the EU is in creating clarity for AI businesses to thriv

The UK's recent AI Safety Summit, while hailed as a diplomatic success for the UK government, has left many in the tech industry questioning the clarity of UK regulations compared to the EU, putting it at risk of falling behind. For its attendees, the summit served as a platform for networking and information exchange rather than a decisive policy-making event. Yet despite the UK and US jointly announcing the launch of AI safety institutes, there is a growing demand for more concrete regulatory efforts to support the rapidly expanding industry. The optimism surrounding AI's contribution to the global economy, as highlighted by PWC's research revealing that AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy, is met with concerns about the lack of regulatory clarity hindering the growth of AI startups in the UK.

With a survey from Deloitte finding that a staggering 94% of businesses and IT executives said that AI is vital for their success in the next five years, Claire Trachet, emphasises the need for a balance between innovation and regulation. She discusses how far ahead the EU is in creating clarity for AI businesses to thrive, as well as how AI is helping create new opportunities and fostering economic growth in the job market, through the use of automating repetitive tasks and enhancing decision-making processes.

In contrast to the UK, the EU has taken substantial legislative steps in AI regulation, with a likely adoption of its AI Act in June 2024, which will outline requirements for providers and users based on the level of risk posed by AI. The act will also effectively penalise businesses that are accountable for data breaches, with the UK unsure on how it wishes to regulate. With the European AI market expected to grow around 40% annually to 2028, the soon-to-be-implemented AI Act provides investors, startups and businesses clarity on how the EU will work to support them in a greater capacity than the UK.

The UK by comparison has only published its AI whitepaper that places far greater responsibility on regulators, with research from The Ada Lovelace Institute indicating that there are significant gaps within it. With no new AI law on the horizon, MPs have warned that without this, the UK risks falling behind in the regulatory race. Despite a £100 million investment into an AI task force, the UK must address these concerns to maintain its status as a global tech leader. This is distressing news when the UK has shown its ability to play a substantial role in the global tech race. The UK has an AI market worth over £16.9bn and is expected to grow to £803.7bn by 2035. The UK also has the largest number of AI startups in Europe with 334 companies established, however, in order to remain competitive, the UK needs effective regulation.

Claire discusses the need for the UK to implement effective regulation without stifling innovation and investment:

"While the AI Safety Summit may have demonstrated the UK's diplomatic prowess, the tech community remains adrift in a sea of ambiguity regarding AI governance, especially when contrasted with the EU's proposed regulatory framework and the US also making strides in this area.

"In order for the industry to thrive in the UK, the government needs to show the public and investors that it is committed to regulating AI safely, whilst also ensuring this doesn't stifle innovation and investment. As the UK grapples with these regulatory uncertainties and the looming spectre of lagging behind, the need for actionable legislation has never been more acute. The future of the UK's global tech leadership hangs in the balance, contingent upon its ability to enact effective AI regulations that will cultivate a thriving marketplace worth potentially £803.7 billion by 2035. The race is on, and the time for the UK to act is now."

About Trachet:

The Trachet advisory team has been helping founders accelerate growth since 2016, utilising decades of cross-industry experience as one of the only female-led teams in the sector.

Visit trachet here