Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK

This weekend, the publication of Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK, the long-awaited, industry led review detailing plans to supercharge the UK’s AI industry – potentially worth £630 billion to the UK economy by 2035, was released.

In the report, the government revealed ambitious plans for boosting the already-growing UK’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology industry.

‘We are at the threshold of an era when much of our productivity and prosperity will be derived from the systems and machines we create. We are accustomed now to technology developing
fast, but that pace will increase and AI will drive much of that acceleration,’ said the review.

It was published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, alongside the Department for Business, and concludes that AI can provide a “unique opportunity” to help many areas of society.

>See also: Which UK industries will benefit the most from artificial intelligence?

It highlights improved productivity, advances in healthcare, and better customer service engagement as other significant benefits that AI can provide. Banking, education and driverless cars were also highlighted as other industries that are already effectively utilising AI, although advancements are needed.

“I want the UK to lead the way in artificial intelligence. It has the potential to improve our everyday lives – from healthcare to robots that perform dangerous tasks,” said Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.

“We already have some of the best minds in the world working on artificial intelligence, and the challenge now is to build a strong partnership with industry and academia to cement our position as the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.”

The AI nation

The report provides 18 recommendations for helping the UK become on of the world’s top AI nations, including an industry-funded Masters qualification program to teach and educate workers with the best AI skills and making the Alan Turing Institute a national research centre for AI technology.

>See also: The digital transformation of the UK public sector

‘We have a choice,’ argued the report. ‘The UK could stay among the world leaders in AI in the future, or allow other countries to dominate. We start from a good position in many respects but other leading countries are devoting significant resources to growing and deploying AI. The UK will need to act in key areas and to sustain action over a long period and across industry sectors, to retain its world leading status, and to grow our AI capability as well as deploying it much more widely.’

The next stage will be for the plans outlined in the report to be considered by the Government, which have already announced earlier this year that £1 billion of investment will be made available in six key areas of research and development.

Marko Balabanovic, chief technology officer at Digital Catapult, the technology innovation centre that unlocks digital growth in the UK economy, said: “We welcome the publication of the review “Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK, led by Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti, with wide ranging input across industry, academia and government. Digital Catapult fully supports and shares the vision for the UK to become the best place in the world for businesses developing and deploying AI to start, grow and thrive.”

>See also: More ambitious gov needed to tackle UK’s poor digital infrastructure

“As well as greater access to data for training algorithms, skilled staff and funding, UK companies working in these global markets need competitive access to the significant computation power needed for modern machine learning tasks, itself a field seeing rapid innovation. We welcome the recommendation to negotiate computation power for AI research, and at Digital Catapult we hope to mirror that for UK AI startups and are actively looking to address these barriers to adoption.”


The Women in IT Awards is the technology world’s most prominent and influential diversity program. On 22 March 2018, the event will come to the US for the first time, taking place in one of the world’s most prominent business cities: New York. Nominations are now open for the Women in IT USA Awards 2018. Click here to nominate

Avatar photo

Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...