More funding needed for women-led AI start-ups, report says

19 March 2024, 00:04

Microsoft introduced the AI assistant button
Microsoft introduced the AI assistant button. Picture: PA

The findings were part of a report published by the Alan Turing Institute.

Female-led AI start-ups are being left behind in terms of investment funding, despite wider financing in the sector “booming”, a new report says.

A paper published on Tuesday by The Alan Turing Institute found that only 0.7% of venture capital investment in the AI software sector since 2010 had gone to female-led start-ups.

The report also highlighted that only 4% of start-ups in the sector were led by women, with all-male founding teams making up 78% and raising nearly 77% of the total capital invested.

Professor Judy Wajcman, lead author of the report said the lack of diversity in the sector “sells both women and the economy short”.

To cut the gender gap in the sector, the report recommends that investors ringfence investment capital for women and underrepresented entrepreneurs working in AI, and called for it to be mandatory for investors to collect and report their diversity data.

The research has been published to coincide with AIUK, a two-day conference on data science and AI being hosted by the Alan Turing Institute.

Artificial intelligence has become the key emerging technology globally, led by the rise of generative AI programmes such as ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini chatbots.

Dr Erin Young, report author and research fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, said: “We’re concerned that women-led startups are being left behind, and it’s particularly worrying in large sectors with high investment and little gender diversity like AI software.

“This sector is booming, experiencing enormous investment but almost all of the capital invested is being awarded to businesses founded only by men.

“Policy reform must focus on the inclusion of women and under-represented groups in this space to have tangible impact on equity and innovation.”

Professor Helen Margetts, the Institute’s public policy programme director, said: “The lack of gender diversity in technology, and specifically in AI, constrains the wide variety of perspectives needed to encourage innovation.

“This important research shows there’s a lot of work to be done but prioritising gender diversity is crucial to ensure we have a well-rounded and versatile economy.”

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

Dr Laura Cinti looks up at an E.woodii plant growing in a glasshouse at Kew Gardens

AI enlisted in the hunt for female partner for lonely ancient plant

A mobile phone next to a telecoms mast near Dundry, Somerset

Pace required to hit targets on rural mobile signal unsustainable, report says

A NatWest sign

NatWest apologises to customers after mobile and online banking suffer outages

Greg Clark

AI regulators in UK are ‘under-resourced’, warns science committee chairman

Openreach engineer

Plans to build full fibre broadband in more than 500 new places unveiled

TikTok strategy

Tory TikTok launch ‘pathetic’ compared with Labour’s ‘savvier’ approach – expert

Person using laptop

More than 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online, study suggests

There are calls for mobile phones to be totally banned for under 16s

Calls for mobile phones to be totally banned for under 16s

A young girl using a mobile phone (picture posed by model)

Next government should consider banning phones for under-16s, report says

Sir Chris Bryant

AI should be used to develop an app which detects skin cancer, Labour MP says

Handout image from Microsoft of its Copilot virtual assistant displayed on a laptop screen

Microsoft expanding Copilot AI assistant to organise meetings and support teams

Solar panels on a house roof

Octopus Energy launches ‘buy now, pay later’ for solar panels

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi set for June IPO in welcome boost for London market

A person using a laptop

Nations agree to develop shared risk thresholds for AI as Seoul summit closes

Microsoft new equiment

Data regulator looking into Microsoft’s AI Recall feature

An easyJet plane

EasyJet uses AI to better manage flights from new control centre