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UK Government appoints C-Level leaders for first AI Opportunity Forum

Written by Wed 31 Jan 2024

The UK Government has appointed members of the UK’s first AI Opportunity Forum to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the private sector.

AI firms will partner with industry leaders to promote AI adoption in the private sector to increase productivity, foster innovation, and fuel economic growth across the economy.

“We stand on the cusp of a productivity revolution; one which has the potential to grow the economy in a way we have never seen before. So, it is important we get it right,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Forum will focus on AI culture and skills, governance practices, technology awareness, risk management, and data accessibility for utilisation.

“AI develops at an incredible pace, and we are acting in lockstep to ensure businesses and employees in every sector of our economy can take advantage of this generation-defining technology,” said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology.

The Government said only one in ten organisations are fully prepared to roll out AI technology. The Forum aims to tackle this problem by sharing best practices and identifying measures that organisations can adopt to improve their AI readiness.

“Initiatives like the Government’s AI Opportunity Forum are key for unlocking the transformative potential of a technology, which has the potential to boost productivity, fuel creativity and drive tech-led growth across a variety of sectors up and down the country,” said Debbie Weinstein, Managing Director of Google UK, a Forum member.

The full list of leaders joining the Forum are:

  • Clare Barclay, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft UK
  • Debbie Weinstein, Managing Director at Google UK and Ireland
  • Vishal Marria, CEO at Quantexa
  • Rene Haas, Chief Executive Officer at Arm
  • Bina Mehta, Chair at KPMG UK
  • Jennie Daly, Chief Executive at Taylor Wimpey
  • Ken Murphy, Group Chief Executive Officer at Tesco
  • C. S. Venkatakrishnan, Group Chief Executive at Barclays
  • Greg Jackson, CEO at Octopus Energy
  • Margherita Della Valle, Chief Executive Officer at Vodafone
  • Emma Walmsley, CEO at GSK
  • Lucian Grainge CBE, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Universal Music Group
  • Steve Hare, Chief Executive Officer at Sage
  • Jack Hidary, Chief Executive Officer at SandboxAQ
  • Edward Braham, Chair at M&G
  • Simon Patterson, Managing Director at Silver Lake
  • Laura Cameron, Managing Partner at Pinsent Masons

Clare Barclay said the AI Opportunity Forum will ‘help accelerate the private sector transformation needed to compete and lead in the global economy’.

“Speed of AI adoption, backed by robust industry skilling programmes, will determine just how successfully the UK embraces this generational shift in how we live and work,” added Barclay.

Government to Accelerate AI Rollout

The Government said it also plans to accelerate the rollout of AI across the public sector.

“We are very optimistic about the opportunities for positive impact from AI, not just for GSK but for the UK’s short and long-term economic growth, innovation and skills development,” said Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer at GSK.

CEO of Quantexa, Vishal Marria, said AI is the biggest technological breakthrough for generations. The big data and enterprise intelligence provider is increasing investments, as they expect AI will transform how organisations make decisions.

“Understandably, there are concerns around the associated risks of AI. But, with the safe and ethical adoption of AI technology, there are huge opportunities for UK businesses across industry sectors to accelerate productivity and growth,” said Marria.

Steve Hare, CEO of software company, Sage, said the AI Opportunity Forum is a ‘step towards this goal, aiming to bring real AI solutions to real businesses’.

“To make AI more effective and trustworthy, there is a need for more collaboration between the Government and the tech sector to nurture the digital economy and ensure SMBs are adopting digital tools to reap the benefits of AI,” said Hare.

The Forum will be Co-chaired by Secretary of State, Michelle Donelan, and the Prime Minister’s Business Adviser, Frank Petitgas.

The AI Opportunity Forum will gather for its first meeting in February, with further meetings taking place bi-monthly. 

Earlier this month, the Central Digital and Data Office published a new framework in collaboration with the industry. This framework established principles for Government departments regarding the responsible use of generative AI (GenAI), including plans to provide free GenAI courses to upskill civil servants. This initiative aims to equip public servants with essential skills for working effectively with AI.

Businesses Call for Funding as AI Shapes Market

In December, a study by Zoho revealed 43% of UK businesses are calling on the UK Government to increase funding for the development of AI technologies.

This call aligns with the goal of establishing the UK as a global leader in AI, a sentiment echoed by 71% of businesses surveyed who believe the UK is a leading technology hub.

In the same month, Indeed’s UK Jobs & Hiring Trends Report found GenAI is increasingly shaping the UK labour market landscape.

The report revealed that 24% of UK jobs face the highest level of potential exposure to GenAI, which can perform a significant portion of the skills required for these jobs.

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Written by Wed 31 Jan 2024

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