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UK seals £1bn AI deal

Written by Goran Nastic
26/04/18

An 'AI Sector Deal' worth almost £1 billion has just been concluded by the UK government. It includes the creation of 1,000 government-funded AI PhDs and a Turing Fellowship programme among other projects.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced that 50 leading technology companies and organisations have contributed to the development of an AI deal worth almost £1 billion, including almost £300m of private sector investment into UK sector from domestic companies and abroad.

Of the £950 million, £603 million is newly allocated funding, while £342 million is from existing budgets, mostly previously set aside for the development of connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

The deal, announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark and Digital Secretary Matt Hancock, comes in response to the Industrial Strategy unveiled last year, which highlighted as one of the UK’s four ‘grand challenges’.

Government plans include the establishment of the Government Office for AI, the AI Council and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. The $9 million Centre for Data Ethics, one of the first such facilities in the world, will work to ensure all AI developments in Britain are “conducted to the highest ethical standards”.

The DCMS vision sees the UK seizing an estimated £232 billion opportunity AI offers the UK economy by 2030, representing 10 percent of GDP. Further investment in research and education around AI and robotics will now be vital.

“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,” said Hancock.

Today’s announcement includes new investments such as:

• Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain opening its first European HQ in the UK and investing £35 million 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 £110 million 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 AIacross supply chains, data-centric engineering and predictive maintenance, and the role of data analytics and AI in science.

In terms of AI skills development for future proofing the workforce, money will be set aside 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. It is also expected that every secondary school has a fully qualified computer science GCSE teacher.

The UK, of course, is only one of many countries globally to have grand AI ambitions. Germany, Japan, Korea, the US and the EU as a whole are among many other embarking on AI related programmes and development. It’s not hard to see why given that AI will potentially touch upon all aspects of industry and daily life. According to Gartner, global business value derived from AI is projected to total $1.2 trillion in 2018, an increase of 70% from 2017. AI-derived business value in customer experience, new revenue and cost reduction should reach $3.9 trillion in 2022.