AI Intrigue: The UK Cities Most Interested In Using Artificial Intelligence

13 November 2023

Posted in: Culture Digital News

We analysed search data to reveal which cities are most interested in using artificial intelligence and machine learning in the UK.

Bill Gates described the latest AI developments as “as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet, and the mobile phone”. Equal parts fascinating, brilliant, and existentially unnerving, the technology has already revolutionised the way we work here at Seeker — as well as triggering plenty of office discussions on the nature of intelligence, art, and even the future of humanity itself. The technology is already a core part of our service — check out our AI SEO solutions page to see what we mean. 

But many questions about the future of AI are still up for debate. Is our intense focus on this emerging technology shared by the rest of the country? Which city could be the future hub of AI innovation? Which parts of the UK are more hesitant? Which region is gearing up for the biggest tech revolution since the invention of the web?

To find out, we analysed regional search data to measure the interest in artificial intelligence per capita. Each city was ranked based on its AI interest scores, ranging from 0 to 15. Here’s what we discovered…

Key findings on the state of UK AI

  • Manchester leads: perhaps building on its history as a driving force behind the 18th-century Industrial Revolution, Manchester continues to shape the future, topping the list as the most AI-focused city in the UK.
  • Strong presence in the Midlands and North: cities located in the North of England as well as the Midlands demonstrate high interest in AI, placing in the top 5 on our list. Notably, this includes Newcastle & Birmingham. 
  • England is out in front: the top 10 positions are exclusively populated by English cities, suggesting that Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are perhaps a little more sceptical towards AI.
  • Battle of the universities: while Oxford – a city with a prestigious university – does manage to bag a spot in the top 3, Cambridge fails to make the top 10. Cities with newer universities such as Newcastle, Birmingham and Leeds all rank highly, suggesting modern institutions are more open to adopting AI. These cities aren’t just centres for AI research but also serve as talent pools for the AI industry.
  • Highly variable interest: the data showcases a range of AI interest levels across different UK cities, with scores varying from Manchester’s 13.91 to Kingston upon Hull’s 2.04; indicative of the varying levels of trust in this emerging technology.
  • Growth opportunities: some cities may be emerging as AI hubs, as they’re not traditionally associated with technology. For example, Peterborough in the East of England, and Bournemouth in the South West. 

AI heat map of the United Kingdom

Let’s dive straight into the data. Below, you’ll find a table ranking the cities most interested in AI, ranked based on their score from 0 to 15.

UK map showcasing the top 20 cities most interested in AI based on AI search interest data per capita gathered and analysed by Seeker Digital. The image shows a green UK map with orange circles over the top 20 cities, followed by a table listing the 20 featured cities.

The level of interest in AI technology varies greatly across the UK – and while it’s no surprise that major technological hubs such as London make the top 20, the results also challenge prevailing stereotypes about the perceived lack of tech literacy in the North of England. Manchester claims the top spot on the list, with Newcastle and Birmingham following close behind. 

The top 20 UK cities interested in AI 

Here is the table ranking for the UK cities most interested in AI. Has your hometown made the list? 

Rank UK City AI Search Demand Per Capita Score Out of 15
1 Manchester 13.91
2 Newcastle upon Tyne 11.23
3 Oxford 10.74
4 Birmingham 10.38
5 London 10.30
6 Leeds 10.11
7 Croydon 9.92
8 Bournemouth 9.17
9 Peterborough 8.81
10 Milton Keynes 7.92
11 Belfast 7.50
12 Portsmouth 7.42
13 Glasgow 7.40
14 Coventry 7.24
15 Wolverhampton 7.12
16 York 6.90
17 Edinburgh 6.88
18 Slough 6.84
19 Warrington 6.41
20 Cambridge 6.31


Artificial intelligence in Manchester is booming

Topping the charts with an AI search demand score of 13.91, Manchester is the most AI-focused city in the UK. A major tech hub, the region recently benefited from the government’s Innovation Accelerator Fund, which was, in part, put towards The Manchester Turing Innovation Hub. Led by The University of Manchester, the project aims to position Manchester as the global leader in AI commercialisation.

Cities with top-ranking universities tend to place high for AI interest

Newcastle and Oxford placed 2nd and 3rd respectively, owing in part to their impressive academic pedigrees, and strong investment from global companies. Newcastle also benefits from having the highest proportion of STEM and computing graduates in the country. This said, not all top-ranking university cities rate highly — Edinburgh and Cambridge place rather low on the list, only narrowly making the top 20.

The Midlands is investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning

Birmingham took spot number 4, perhaps due to its recent award of £1.2m from the Office of Students, which it’s using to fund up to 120 master’s scholarships in the field of AI and data science. It’s an investment that appears to be paying off, contributing to an increased interest in AI among Birmingham’s population. 

The capital remains an AI innovator 

London makes it into the top 5, too. A globally recognised innovator in the tech field, the city is home to some of the leading minds in the realm of artificial intelligence, including Demis Hassabis, co-founder of the now Google-owned DeepMind

Seeker’s hometown shows future promise

While it’s somewhat disheartening to see Bristol narrowly miss out on a spot in the top 20, we’re confident that Seeker’s stomping ground will rise up the ranks in 2024. Given that our agency is a pioneer in the field of AI SEO, we’re keen to review these results next year!

AI-related jobs in the United Kingdom

In recent years, the UK has seen a remarkable surge in the demand for AI-related jobs, and this has, undoubtedly, been spurred by the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The ever-expanding influence of artificial intelligence has and will continue to be felt across every sector, from healthcare and finance to manufacturing and entertainment. 

To examine the state of AI employment in the UK, we analysed the current job market to see how many job vacancies related to AI were available per UK city using Indeed

With over 2,600 AI job listings, we found Slough is at the forefront of AI job demand — surprising considering it only narrowly made the top 20 list for AI interest. In contrast, London puts up a strong showing across the board, with the third highest number of AI job opportunities, suggesting a substantial supply of jobs and a high level of interest and expertise. 

Here are some other observations: 

  • Regional disparities become apparent when examining cities in the North, such as Manchester and Newcastle. While both cities placed highly on the chart for AI interest levels, they fall behind in job availability, placing 14th and 39th, respectively.
  • It’s also interesting to note that the size of a city doesn’t always correlate with AI job availability. While larger cities like Birmingham and Glasgow have a relatively high AI search interest, their AI job listings are not as prominent
  • In contrast, cities such as Croydon and Slough have a strong alignment between job availability and AI search interest.

As the use of AI technology becomes more ingrained into our everyday lives, we should start to see employment in AI-related fields increase — especially in areas with a strong alignment between AI interest and job availability. 

While many AI-related roles, like data science and machine learning careers, have been around for years, we should also prepare for the emergence of new positions, such as those focused on AI ethics and prompt engineering.

Where may artificial intelligence go in the future? 

No matter what your thoughts are regarding the proliferation of artificial intelligence, it’s undeniable that the prevalence of this technology is only going to grow as time goes on. But how will it be harnessed, and which sectors will benefit most from it?

  • AI in healthcare: artificial intelligence is poised to revolutionise the healthcare industry. In the coming years, we can expect AI to play a more significant role in diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and drug discovery. The first drug developed by AI entered trials earlier this year. 
  • AI in marketing: given ChatGPT’s obvious applications in the fields of journalism and copywriting, we’re already witnessing an increase in content creation efficiency. Moreover, AI can analyse vast amounts of data to optimise ad campaigns, target audiences more effectively, and predict consumer behaviour. Fancy seeing what AI SEO could do for your business today? Get in touch now. 
  • Autonomous vehicles: the future of transportation lies in autonomous vehicles. AI-driven self-driving cars are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they promise safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation. As technology advances and regulatory frameworks evolve, we may soon see self-driving cars on our streets as a common sight.
  • AI in education: AI is reshaping the way we learn. Personalised learning experiences, adaptive curriculums, and intelligent tutoring systems are becoming more prevalent. In the future, AI will continue to individualise education, making it more accessible and effective for students of all ages.
  • Environmental conservation: AI has the potential to address some of the most pressing environmental issues. From predicting climate change patterns to optimising energy consumption and aiding in wildlife conservation, artificial intelligence will be a powerful tool in the fight against global challenges.
  • AI-assisted creativity: AI is no longer confined to data analysis and problem-solving. Creative industries, such as art, music, and content creation, are also benefiting from AI’s capabilities. AI-generated art, music composition, and content curation are areas where we can anticipate further growth, pushing the boundaries of human and machine collaboration in the creative process.
  • AI integration: AI-powered apps are the future. In the next decade, we can expect to see everyday organisational tools taking advantage of AI integrations. From personal note-taking applications to augmented reality overlays, the sci-fi dream of robotic assistance is set to become a reality far sooner than any of us could’ve anticipated. 
  • AI-powered customer service: the use of AI chatbots and virtual assistants in customer service will continue to expand. As AI technologies improve, businesses will provide more seamless and efficient customer interactions, offering real-time support and personalised recommendations.

The rapid rise in AI technology shows no signs of slowing, and the potential use cases for the tech are practically limitless. Whether you feel threatened by the technology, or you’ve already embraced it with open arms, the power of AI is undeniable. 

AI: Friend or Foe?

While artificial intelligence continues to advance and permeate various aspects of our lives, the question must be posed: is the tech a friend or a foe? Arguably, the answer to this question will depend on your preparedness…

  • Education and learning: to harness the potential of AI as a friend, consider upskilling or reskilling in AI-related fields. Understanding AI principles and applications can open doors to exciting career opportunities and make you adaptable to the evolving job market. Far from destroying jobs, we believe the tech should be embraced, and it’s a topic we’ve written about before
  • Ethical considerations: as AI’s influence grows, it’s crucial to engage with AI ethics and responsible AI practices. Be an advocate for ethical AI and stay informed about AI developments that may raise ethical concerns.
  • Data privacy and security: while there are plenty of legitimate use cases for AI, malicious actors will inevitably use the tech for personal gains. The recent case of an AI-generated video being used to scam web users is an unsettling sign of things to come, and so we should expect to see a response to this through AI-detection software and updates to cybersecurity standards right across the board. 

Much like the rest of the world, the UK is very much undecided when it comes to its feelings towards AI. On the one hand, AI technology holds the promise of dramatic increases in efficiency and creativity, turning the once far-fetched dreams of science fiction into a present-day reality. On the other hand, artificial intelligence raises some rather concerning ethical, moral, and philosophical questions, and if managed improperly, could lead humanity down a rather dark, dystopian path. 

But whatever your thoughts are on AI, it’s indisputably one of the most important technological developments of the 21st century — and as luck would have it, we’re all perfectly positioned to watch it unfold in real-time. If you ask us, we’d say that makes us all exceptionally lucky!

Campaign methodology

Seeker Digital set out to discover which UK city is most interested in learning and using AI. 

Seeker took the top 60 UK cities based on population (2023 World Population Review) to create a seed list of UK cities. Google Keyword Planner was used to track city search demand for twelve AI-related keywords, totalling the average monthly search for these terms to get an AI search demand figure.

The total search volume was divided by the 2023 population of each city to showcase the search demand per capita in each city, accurately reflecting AI search interest and crowning the most AI-interested city with an overall score out of fifteen. 

Data collected October 2023.




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