Oracle has announced plans to expand its artificial intelligence (AI) hub in Reading, and will aim to double the AI development team there.
The firm’s global AI development hub already works with firms and public services bodies to develop their AI capabilities, and by increasing its team, the hub hopes to up the pace of development of AI and machine learning for business applications.
Oracle is looking for technical talent in the region to fill data scientists and data architect roles.
“Our expansion in the UK reflects the region’s strong technology talent,” said Oracle CEO Safra Catz. “The global AI development hub in Reading accelerates innovation and helps customers take advantage of these critical emerging technologies by making them pervasive throughout our cloud offerings.”
The team at the AI hub already develops machine learning and AI technologies that are part of Oracle’s cloud applications offered to its customers.
As the number of firms using AI for certain tasks and services has increased, there has also been a rise in demand for data scientists and AI specialists of late, but many of these roles are being filled by contractors due to skills gaps.
Firms such as Marks and Spencer are aiming to train existing employees in data skills, whilst the UK government has been urged to add AI and machine learning expertise to the list of Tier 2 Visa skills shortages.
Some believe the UK’s computing curriculum, which was introduced in 2014 to introduce young people to the digital skills needed for day-to-day life, is too inflexible to introduce emerging technologies such as AI as they develop.
UK Government Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “We are already Europe’s leading tech hub, with global firms and thriving startups choosing the UK as the place to grow their business and create high-skilled jobs.
There is already a concern the lack of technical skills will diminish in the UK after Brexit, but some have said the UK has the opportunity to boost the AI sector if the UK’s exit from the EU is properly navigated.
“I’m pleased Oracle recognises our unique combination of talent, business environment and entrepreneurial spirit and is expanding its development hub here,” said Wright. “We are a world leader in artificial intelligence and our modern Industrial Strategy puts pioneering technologies at the heart of our plans to build a Britain fit for the future.”
Oracle is also investing in UK startup technologies as part of its Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem Program.
After showing a weak performance in its first quarter results for 2018/19, the firm has spent the last few months pushing its products into the ASEAN region.