In a significant move to bolster the development of “cutting-edge” artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Technology Secretary Chloe Smith has announced a substantial £54 million investment for universities across the UK.
The funding, delivered through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), aims to propel groundbreaking research in AI and emphasise the importance of responsible and trustworthy AI systems. Notably, this investment is said to align with the global ambition of achieving net zero emissions.
Out of the total investment, £31 million will be allocated to the University of Southampton to pioneer research in responsible AI and aims to establish it as a leader in the field. This project will bring together the expertise of academia, business, and the wider public to explore the development and utilisation of responsible AI, considering its broader impact on society.
“Despite our size as a small island nation, the UK is a technology powerhouse.” said Smith. “Last year, the UK became just the third country in the world to have a tech sector valued at $1 trillion. It is the biggest in Europe by some distance and behind only the US and China globally.”
The announcement was made during a keynote speech by the Technology Secretary at London Tech Week, where efforts to secure the UK’s position as a science and tech superpower took centre stage. Alongside this investment, the Technology Secretary unveiled the UK Geospatial Strategy 2030, which will harness the power of AI, satellite imaging, and real-time data to unlock billions of pounds in economic benefits.
Technology for net zero
As part of the investment package, the remaining £13 million will fund 13 projects at universities across the UK that will focus on pioneering AI innovations in sustainable land management, efficient CO2 capture, and improved resilience against natural hazards. By supporting research in these areas, the UK aims to leverage AI’s transformative potential to drive sustainability and combat the effects of climate change.
Private firms are already using AI to help with data aggregation and disclosure requirements around sustainability due to the heavy nature of the work.
This announcement builds upon the UK government’s previous commitments to AI research. In March, £117 million in funding was allocated to Centres for Doctoral Training in AI, with an additional £46 million designated for Turing AI Fellowships to nurture the next generation of top AI talent.
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