Government places £1bn bet on AI

Written by Sam Trendall on 26 April 2018 in News
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The government has published its AI Sector Deal, including details of major funding from the public, private, and research sectors

The government has published its AI Sector Deal, which lays out a funding package of almost £1bn for the artificial intelligence space.
 
Included in this is a range of investment plans to support initiatives from the public sector, private enterprise, and research and academia. A total of £602m in new funding has been cumulatively committed by government, businesses, and education institutions. A further £342m that can be invested in AI has been identified in existing budgets, the government said.
 
Among the programmes being funded and supported by government and its partners are:
  • Building skills in maths and technology with a £406m investment scheme that provides for the recruitment of an additional 8,000 computer science teachers, and the creation of a National Centre for Computing
  • Driving the use of AI in the services sector with a £20m programme to support research and development
  • Developing AI and robotics for use in “extreme environments” – such as nuclear energy facilities, mines, and outer space – through a £93m government challenge fund, as well as investment of £69m from industry partners
  • The creation of a £20m GovTech Fund to help businesses develop AI tools for use in the public sector
  • A £300m investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support research related to AI and data science
  • An additional £83m from the EPSRC to be distributed in 159 AI research grants
  • Supporting the work of the Alan Turing Institute with backing of £72m, including £42m from EPSRC and a cumulative £30m from Lloyds Register, Intel, and ARM
  • Creating about 200 new doctoral studentships in AI and other related subject areas, with a goal of having “at least 1,000 government-supported PhD places at any one time” by 2025
  • Doubling the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas issued each year to 2,000, in a bid to “attract the best talent” from around the world
The deal also pointed to investments being made in UK facilities by a wide array of “AI powerhouses”, including giants such as Google, Amazon, and HPE, as well as specialised start-ups like Ironfly Technologies and Element AI.
 
Secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Matt Hancock said: “The UK must be at the forefront of emerging technologies, pushing boundaries and harnessing innovation to change people’s lives for the better. 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. 
 
He added: “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.”
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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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