£200 million to create a new generation of Artificial Intelligence leaders

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One thousand new research and business leaders will be created to ensure the UK leads the global revolution in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This new generation of PhD students will use AI technology to improve healthcare, tackle climate change and create new commercial opportunities, thanks to a £100 million investment from UK Research and Innovation, announced today, Thursday 21 February 2019.

They will be trained at 16 new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) based at 14 UK universities with 300 partners, including AstraZeneca, Google and Rolls-Royce, and NHS trusts. Project partners are investing £78 million in cash or in-kind contributions and partner universities are committing a further £23 million, resulting in an overall investment of more than £200 million.

The investment has been welcomed by government ministers.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: The UK has long been a nation of innovators and today's package of AI skills and talent investment will help nurture leading UK and international talent to ensure we retain our world-beating reputation in research and development.

Artificial intelligence has great potential to drive up productivity and enhance every industry throughout our economy, from more effective disease diagnosis to building smart homes. Today's announcement is our modern Industrial Strategy in action, investing in skills and talent to drive high skilled jobs, growth and productivity across the UK.

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: The UK is not only the birthplace to the father of artificial intelligence, Alan Turing, but we are leading the way on work to ensure AI innovation has ethics at its core.

We want to keep up this momentum and cement our reputation as pioneers in AI. Working with world-class academic institutions and industry we will be able to train the next generation of top-tier AI talent and maintain the UK's reputation as a trailblazer in emerging technologies.

AI has the potential to further transform the way we work and live, allowing complex tasks to be completed quickly and useful insights to be gleaned from large quantities of information.

One example is in healthcare, where AI is being developed to analyse information and images, such as X-ray scans, to pick up abnormalities at an earlier stage and ensure that patients can receive life-saving treatment.

The investment will sustain a pipeline of talent and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of emerging technologies, supporting the commitment in the government's AI Sector Deal.

Also announced today are 200 new AI Masters places at UK universities and up to five new research fellows, created in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute to retain and attract top AI talent in UK academic institutions. For further information on the call for this fund, please visit the Alan Turing Institute AI Fellowships call page.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: Artificial intelligence is a disruptive technology in a range of sectors, enabling new products and services and transforming data science. It allows us to develop new approaches to challenges as diverse as early disease diagnosis and climate change.

To maintain its leadership in AI, the UK will need a new generation of researchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs equipped with new skills. Working with partners across academia and industry, the centres announced today will provide the foundations for these future leaders.

Many of the UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence have relevance to EPSRC's remit. A full list of these CDTs is available at the UKRI website.

Notes for editors:

UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the Arts and Humanities Research Council; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Innovate UK; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; Research England; and Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Reference: PN 11-19

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