Microsoft has confirmed it bought a stake in a British artificial intelligence (AI) company just days after claiming the country was an unattractive place to do business.
The $2 trillion US company has invested in Builder.ai, a London-headquartered company that develops tools to automate app design and coding.
News of the investment comes after Microsoft executives warned last week that Britain was hostile to business.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said the EU was a “more attractive place to start a business” after the UK’s competition watchdog decided to block its takeover of gaming giant Activision.
Founded in 2016, Builder.ai’s tools break app development into building blocks, allowing non-technical companies to assemble apps with the help of automation tools and advice from professional engineers.
Microsoft has poured billions of dollars into a new wave of artificial intelligence technologies, including a $10 billion deal with Silicon Valley company OpenAI, which developed the chatbot ChatGPT.
The tech giant has also backed several UK artificial intelligence start-ups, including entering a £7m investment in data start-up Hazy earlier this year.
Last year, the company invested in British driverless car company Wayve and also backed AI chip company Graphcore.
The amount of investment in Builder.ai was not disclosed.
The startup has already raised a total of $195 million from previous investors, including New York fund Insight Partners and European venture firm Lakestar.
Organizations that have partnered with Builder.ai to create apps include the BBC.
Officials are concerned that the UK is struggling to scale its tech companies to a scale to rival global players.
A lack of scale leaves startups vulnerable to being bought out by foreign tech giants or pressured by US investors to go offshore.
Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, has vowed to transform the UK into a “science and technology superpower” and pledged £1billion to invest in new AI technologies and computing power.
As part of Builder.ai’s deal with Microsoft, its tools will be available through the tech giant’s cloud computing service Azure and will integrate with tools developed by OpenAI.
Microsoft has enriched its technology products with OpenAI’s chatbot technology, which can provide human-like responses to questions and prompts.
It has embedded chatbot technology in its plans for the Bing search engine, adding it to Word and Excel as a digital assistant and editor
Builder.ai enables companies to quickly build web and mobile apps by combining AI software with professional developers.
Customers can interact with an “AI Product Manager” named Natasha to bring their ideas to life, with no technical or coding skills required.
The company has teams in London, New Delhi, Singapore, the US and Dubai.
Sachin Dev Duggal, Founder of Builder.ai said, “We are thrilled that the world’s largest software company has chosen Builder.ai as their partner.”
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