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Salesforce opens London doors to its first AI centre

Salesforce the latest tech company to invest in London as a centre of AI excellence, but concerns linger about digital skills gap.

By Tech Monitor Staff

The first Salesforce AI centre has opened in London, with over a hundred developers and administrators invited to a kick-off AI training event at its new 40,000-square-foot facility.

Snowflake AI Centre opening
Snowflake says the newly-opened centre will help create 500,000 AI-related jobs. (Photo courtesy of Snowflake)

Salesforce’s decision to locate its first AI centre in the UK capital was hailed as a vote of confidence in the country’s AI economy, but the company used this launch opportunity to stress the need to address the growing digital skills gap in the UK.

Salesforce investment in UK tech and talent

The AI Now Tour marked the first in an ongoing series of similar events which seek to equip Salesforce developers and administrators from across industries with the skills they need to build the future of generative AI applications. This free-to-attend event also spoke to the company’s commitment to train 100,000 developers worldwide.

The opening of Salesforce’s new AI hub comes as part of a $4bn investment announced in 2023 by the CRM firm into its UK arm, spread over five years – an infusion the company said was designed to help commercialise generative AI for its customers in the country.

So far, the firm claims to have invested over $200m in British companies such as AutoGenAI and ElevenLabs through its investment arm, Salesforce Ventures. The firm’s UK and Ireland chief executive, Zahra Bahrololoumi has stressed AI’s potential to drive major growth for UK businesses. According to figures from the US International Trade Administration, the UK AI market is predicted to reach over $1trn by 2035.

Does UK have skills to support AI growth?

But the UK is facing a digital skills crisis that could impede this growth – Salesforce research shows that although over a third of UK workers are using or planning to use generative AI at work, the majority (62%) lack the skills to do so effectively and safely. Salesforce claims the new centre will help create 500,000 AI-related jobs in the UK.

“London is a world-class AI hub, and we’re proud to have a thriving customer and partner ecosystem here,” explained Relina Bulchandani, EVP, real estate and workplace services for Salesforce. “That’s why we chose the city for our first AI centre. The space will be a learning lab for experimenting and incubating new ideas, which will be shared with industry experts all over the world.”

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Deputy Mayor of London for business and growth, Howard Dawber, was among the attendees at the launch. “The new Salesforce UK AI Centre will play an important part in ensuring London continues to be a leader in AI innovation, and a centre for global collaboration,” he said. “We must continue to provide our workforce with the right skills so they can implement AI responsibly and effectively, boosting our economy as we build a better and fairer London for everyone.”

London as a centre of AI excellence

Salesforce says that this new facility is only the first of many to open worldwide. The company is by no means the only tech giant committing to the UK capital as a centre for AI excellence. In April, Microsoft announced that it would open a new AI hub based out of the company’s Paddington office. The new laboratory is led by former Deepmind and Inflection engineer Jordan Hoffman.

“I know – through my close work with thought leaders in the UK government, business community, and academia – that the country is committed to advancing AI responsibly and with a safety-first commitment to drive investment, innovation and economic growth,” wrote Mustafa Suleyman, Microsoft AI’s executive vice-president and CEO, in a statement announcing the news. “Our decision to open this hub in the UK reflects this ambition.”

Read more: Microsoft to launch new AI centre in London

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