UK announces £118m AI skills funding


The UK’s AI skills base is set to be future-proofed with a £118m boost to funding, the Government claims in an announcement today (Tuesday 31 October). 

This includes naming, for the first time, the further 12 Centres for Doctoral Training in AI that will benefit from Government backing through UK Research and Innovation. Meanwhile, a new visa scheme will make it easier for the most innovative businesses to bring talented AI researchers in their early careers, to the UK, the government says.

This is on top of funding for 15 science and technology scholarships at some of the UK’s world-leading universities, a £1 million grants scheme to help top AI talent relocate to the UK, and the pilot of a new STEM Olympiad scholarship scheme ‘Backing Invisible Geniuses’.

It builds on a further £8.1 million that was recently announced for postgraduate course scholarships in AI and data science. 

Says Secretary of State Michelle Donelan:

“The UK is at the very forefront of the global race to turn AI’s enormous potential into a giant leap forward for people’s quality of life and productivity at work, all while ensuring this technology works safely, ethically and responsibly.

“The plans we are announcing today will future-proof our nation’s skills base, meaning British people can reap the benefits of AI as it continues to develop. At the same time, we are moving further and faster to put the power of this technology to work for good across Government and society.”

Adds UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser: 

“The UK is in a strong position to harness the power of AI to transform many aspects of our lives for the better. Crucial to this endeavour is nurturing the talented people and teams we need to apply AI to a broad spectrum of challenges, from healthy ageing to sustainable agriculture, ensuring its responsible and trustworthy adoption. UKRI is investing £117 million in Centres for Doctoral Training to develop the talented researchers and innovators we need for success.”

Alongside the support for skills, a raft of measures are being unveiled today across Government designed to unleash AI’s potential to improve how we work and boost our quality of life. This includes the naming of 64 NHS trusts across the country that will benefit from the £21 million rollout of AI tech to improve how chest X-ray and CT scans are used to diagnose serious conditions such as lung cancer.

All of this comes on the eve of the AI Safety Summit, being hosted at Bletchley Park from Wednesday 1 – Thursday 2 November. The Summit is another signal of the UK’s determination to lead the way globally on managing the risks around AI, together with partners from around the world.

Chris Price
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