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Britain looks to upstage France with play for world's third major AI hub after U.S., China

LONDON — Global tech entrepreneurs and investors are talking up the U.K.'s potential to become an artificial intelligence powerhouse rivaling the likes of the U.S. and China.

But key challenges face the country as it looks to become the world's third-biggest AI hub.

At the London Tech Week conference in the Olympia events venue earlier this month, tech executives from around the world touted London and the U.K. as a place to invest.

They spoke highly of how well-connected the tech and AI ecosystem is, particularly in London, as well as the prestige of many of its top universities and schools.

Alex Kendall, CEO of autonomous driving technology firm Wayve, said his company was committed to London as its central headquarters.

Asked whether he would consider relocating the firm — which recently raised a $1 billion funding round from SoftBank and others —  Kendall said Wayve's headquarters is "remaining and staying in London."

"I love the environment here," he said in a talk onstage with tech investor Brent Hoberman.

"The thing that's special about London for me is that it's a tech superpower but it's not tech dominated. It's diverse, it's culturally rich."

Wayve has offices in London, San Francisco and Vancouver.

Indeed, London is home to vibrant tech ecosystems, with prominent technology brands like Sage and venture-backed startups Revolut and Deliveroo.

But it's also done well attracting deep-pocketed U.S. tech firms from overseas.

In 2014, Google snapped up British-founded AI lab DeepMind, whose tech is now a core part of Google's AI product offering, including its generative AI tool Gemini.

Last week, Salesforce opened its first flagship AI center in London, as part of a five-year $4 billion investment commitment to the U.K.