A fast-growing artificial intelligence software firm plans to double its UK staff after undergoing one of the largest-ever funding rounds for AI.

Dataiku raised $101m – equivalent to £80m – in a series C round in December, taking its total funding to date to almost $150m. It has established a strong presence in the UK over the last 18 months, working with the likes of Unilever, Aviva and DAZN.

The New York-headquartered company has a workforce of 210, half of whom are based in the founders’ home country of France, with 60 in the United States and 20 in London.

“We’re a French company by the nationality of our founders and the US market is obviously very important, but after that the UK is the most important for us,” Dataiku’s VP of strategy Romain Fouache told BusinessCloud.

“We believe it's the country where we should focus a significant part of our resources and that is exactly what we intend to do.

“We're looking to at least double the size of our team in the UK this year and use that as a platform to continue building our user base in the UK. We then intend to recruit many more than that next year.”

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The company’s UK staff are currently based in a WeWork shared office but there are plans to open a dedicated office in central London early this year, aimed at becoming a local hub of data science for AI education and innovation.

Even the looming spectre of Brexit is not dampening expectations, according to Fouache.

“We’re planning on opening a new HQ in the UK hopefully by the end of the first quarter,” he said. “We don’t anticipate Brexit on having a negative impact on the development plan we have for the UK. We are massively hiring there.”

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More than 200 global customers across a multitude of sectors – including retail, eCommerce, health care, finance, transportation, the public sector, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals – use Dataiku’s software.

“We enable company-wide transformations using data science, AI and machine learning tools,” explained Fouache. “The challenge is to engage all the stakeholders and put all of this together in such a way that you are able to create an impact in every aspect of the business.

“Augmenting your business with data is a competitive advantage. If the Darwinian theories were to be applied, tomorrow the companies remaining will be the ones that have made the transformation.

“If data allows you to improve every decision you make, your company will be more efficient, more equipped to handle the competition and in the end be the one that stays. There are very few instances where companies will be able to thrive without having made that data science enterprise transformation.” 

Fouache says Dataiku is looking to broaden the range of customers it attracts on these shores.

“There is a significant market to be tapped in the UK and London which is ready to engage in large-scale augmentation,” he added.

“Financial services are one very strong area for our software, for example – and London is a world leader in that sector.”