£54m in UK government funding announced for AI research

UK Technology Secretary Chloe Smith announced government investment totalling £54m towards building secure and trustworthy AI, at London Tech Week

In an aim to support AI and data science talent across the country, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is set to allocate £31m of the funding towards research into responsible AI safeguards taking place at the University of Southampton.

Further funding, meanwhile, will go towards 13 selected university projects aiming to develop pioneering AI innovations in sustainable land management, efficient CO2 capture, and improved resilience against natural disasters.

In line with the new investment, the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT) will subsequently call for submission of ideas for further scientific research in the UK that isn’t already being explored. This is reportedly being backed by a further £50m in government funding.

AI identified as top industry disruptor by CEOsGartner research reveals that over a fifth of CEOs globally believe that AI will significantly impact their industry over the next three years.

Additionally, the 2030 UK Geospatial strategy was launched during London Tech Week, which looks to unlock billions in economic benefits through harnessing tech including AI, satellite imaging and real-time data.

“Despite our size as a small island nation, the UK is a technology powerhouse,” said Technology Secretary Chloe Smith. “Last year, the UK became just the third country in the world to have a tech sector valued at $1tn. It is the biggest in Europe by some distance and behind only the US and China globally.

“The technology landscape, though, is constantly evolving, and we need a tech ecosystem which can respond to those shifting sands, harness its opportunities, and address emerging challenges. The measures unveiled today will do exactly that.”

UK tech sector now worth $1 trillionThe UK becomes the first country apart from the US and China whose tech sector is worth more than a trillion dollars.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive of the UKRI, commented: “UKRI is investing in the people and technologies that will improve lives for people in the UK and around the world. By supporting research to develop AI that is useful, trustworthy and trusted, we are laying solid foundations on which we can build new industries, products and services across a wide range of fields.

“Working though cross-disciplinary partnerships we will ensure that responsible innovation is integrated across all aspects of the work as it progresses.”

The funding follows a recent announcement made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, regarding investment of £250m into artificial intelligence development in the country, as well as a lobbying for the UK to host a global AI regulator.

With evolving innovations such as generative AI large language models (LLMs) remaining prominent in the consciousness of regulators, businesses and the public, a balance needs to be struck between service growth and improvement, and societal risks that may occur going forward.

“As the debate around the future of this emerging and fast moving technology continues, this collaboration can help to ensure best practice in providing guidance and regulation which sees AI applied to aid ethical and secure adoption and which can help the UK continue its ambition to take the lead in these industry developments,” said Sridhar Iyengar, managing director for Zoho Europe.

“Further education from all parties will only work to increase trust and reduce fears.”


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.