Ministers unveil £1bn package for AI academia

DSIT secretary of state has announced major investment in doctoral training programmes delivered via 65 centres and focused in areas including robotic surgery and the cybersecurity of critical national infrastructure

Government has announced an investment of more than £1bn in supporting academic training in areas including artificial intelligence and quantum technology.

The funding, unveiled this week by science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan, will be used to support nationwide network of 65 doctoral training centres run by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is part of government body UK Research and Innovation.

The council is providing £500m of backing, with a further £590m being contributed by universities and business partners.

Alongside AI and quantum, the money will support programmes in areas such as semiconductors, telecoms, and engineering biology, according to UKRI.

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King’s College London will offering training related to “advanced engineering for personalised surgery”, including “micro-surgical robots, AI-assisted surgery, [and] digital surgical twins creating virtual replicas of patients’ anatomy”, UKRI said. The University of Bristol, meanwhile, will run a scheme to “focus on the cybersecurity and resilience of… large-scale infrastructures… such as water, energy, transport and banking”.

Donelan said: “As innovators across the world break new ground faster than ever, it is vital that government, business and academia invests in ambitious UK talent, giving them the tools to pioneer new discoveries that benefit all our lives while creating new jobs and growing the economy. By targeting critical technologies including artificial intelligence, and future telecoms, we are supporting world class universities across the UK to build the skills base we need to unleash the potential of future tech and maintain our country’s reputation as a hub of cutting-edge research and development.”

Sam Trendall

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