MASTERCLASSING

Businesses investing in the UK's AI sector as part of £1bn deal

Tyrone Stewart

Robot AIOver 50 businesses and organisations have pledged to invest in the UK’s artificial intelligence (AI) industry as part of a deal worth nearly £1bn.

The deal between the UK government and the industry, which is aimed at putting the UK to the forefront of the AI sector, will include more than £300m of newly allocated government funding for AI research.  

“The UK must be at the forefront of emerging technologies, pushing boundaries and harnessing innovation to change people's lives for the better,” said Matt Hancock, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.“Artificial Intelligence is at the centre of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. We have a great track record and are home to some of the world's biggest names in AI like Deepmind, Swiftkey and Babylon, but there is so much more we can do.

“By boosting AI skills and data driven technologies we will make sure that we continue to build a Britain that is shaping the future.”

Investments in UK AI under the deal include Japanese venture capital firm Global Braid investing £35m in deep-tech startups, while opening its first European headquarters in the UK; the University of Cambridge is opening a £10m AI supercomputer and making its infrastructure available to businesses; Canadian venture capital firm Chrysalix is investing up to £110m in AI and robotics and opening a European HQ also; and the Alan Turing Institute and Rolls-Royce will work together on projects exploring data science, AI, and data analytics.

Money in the deal will pay for 8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funded AI PHDs by 2025, and a commitment to develop a global Turing Fellowship programme. In addition, accountancy firm Sage has committed to providing 150 young people across the UK with an AI pilot programme.  

The government will also provide £20m to the UK’s service industries, including law and insurance, to help identify how AI can be used in their operations. Furthermore, £21m will be used to support uptake of AI via businesses by rebranding Tech City UK as Tech Nation and creating regional tech hubs across the UK. On top of all this, the government is set to build a £9m centre for data ethics and innovation to ensure all AI developments are conducted to high ethical standards.

“Artificial intelligence provides limitless opportunities to develop new, efficient and accessible products and services which transform the way we live and work,” said Greg Clark, business and energy secretary. “Today’s new deal with industry will ensure we have the right investment, infrastructure and highly-skilled workforce to establish the UK as a driving force in the development and commercial use of artificial intelligence technologies.

“As with all innovation there is also the potential for misuse which puts the whole sector under scrutiny and undermines public confidence.  That is why we are establishing a new world-leading body, to ensure the ethical use of data in AI applications for the benefit of all.”