UK Govt seals £1bn deal with businesses to boost AI industry

Posted on 26 Apr 2018 by Jonny Williamson

More than 50 businesses and organisations have contributed to the development of a £1bn deal to put the nation at the forefront of the AI industry, featuring almost £300m of new private sector investment.

The deal between government and industry includes more than £300m of newly allocated government funding for AI research – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The deal between government and industry also includes more than £300m of newly allocated government funding for AI research to make the UK a global leader in this technology.

Building on the commitment made in the Industrial Strategy and its AI Grand Challenge, the deal marks the first phase of a major innovation-focused investment drive in AI which aims to help the UK seize the £232bn opportunity AI offers the UK economy by 2030 (10% of GDP).

The AI Sector Deal follows record levels of investments into UK tech in 2017 and today’s deal includes new investments such as:

  • Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain opening its first European HQ in the UK and investing £35m in UK deep-tech start-ups
  • The University of Cambridge opening a new £10 million AI supercomputer and making its infrastructure available to businesses
  • Top-ranking Vancouver-based venture capital firm Chrysalix, is also going to establish a European HQ in the UK and use it to invest up to £110m in AI and robotics
  • The Alan Turing Institute and Rolls-Royce will jointly-run research projects exploring: how data science can be applied at scale, the application of AI across supply chains, data-centric engineering and predictive maintenance, and the role of data analytics and AI in science.

Developing AI Skills

The deal will help establish the UK as a research hotspot, with measures to ensure the innovators and tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow are based in the UK, with investment in the high-level post-graduate skills needed to capitalise on technology’s huge potential.

It includes money for training for 8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funded AI PhDs by 2025 and a commitment to develop a prestigious global Turing Fellowship programme to attract and retain the best research talent in AI to the UK.

This will make sure every secondary school has a fully qualified computer science GCSE teacher to give the next generation the skills they need to develop and capitalise on future technology.

As part of the deal, the accountancy firm Sage have also committed to delivering an AI pilot programme for 150 young people across the UK.

Regional Tech Hubs

The Government will build on its reputation as an international hub for AI innovation and provide £20m of funding to help the UK’s service industries, including law and insurance, with new pilot projects to identify how AI can transform and enhance their operations.

£21m will also be used to support uptake of AI through businesses by transforming Tech City UK, currently London based, into Tech Nation, creating a world-leading network of high growth regional tech hubs across the country.

World’s first Centre for Data Ethics

The deal highlights government work to ensure all AI developments in Britain are conducted to the highest ethical standards by establishing a world-leading Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

The £9m centre will be an important part of plans to make the UK the best place in the world for businesses developing AI to grow and thrive.

It will address the challenges posed by the adoption of AI and advise on the measures needed to enable and ensure safe, ethical and innovative uses of data-driven technologies, while helping protect consumers.

The new sector deal is the focal point of the government’s Artificial Intelligence Grand Challenge, a key part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy which sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

AI in the UK

The AI sector deal will not only support new adopters of AI, it will help the UK’s trailblazing companies who are already embracing this tech and using it to create clusters of expertise, high-skill jobs and investing in developing this technology.

Companies and bodies in the UK actively embracing AI in what they do include among others:

  • UK Space Agency investing £3m through Harwell-based Satellite Applications Catapult in a project that will use artificial intelligence and satellite technology to help detect illegal jungle gold miners in Colombia
  • As part of a partnership with CodeBase, Barclays PLC has launched its first Scottish ‘Eagle Lab’ in Edinburgh
  • IQE, a specialist in semiconductors, is investing £38m alongside Cardiff University to develop a new state-of-the-art facility that will manufacture components used in AI applications.
  • Cleo, a hyper-intelligent AI financial assistant that’s simplifying money, is being fully automated so it can learn from users’ data, helping and advising on finances with a voice and intelligence in tune with a user’s preferences.
  • Heralding a new era of defending against today’s advanced and novel cyber-threats, Darktrace has been deployed over 5,000 times across 97 countries, defending against some of the most complex corporate and critical national infrastructure environments in the world.

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