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UK government to direct £17.3m at AI and robotics research

Mon 27 Feb 2017


The UK government is set to announce increased support for the British artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics sector as it releases its long-awaited Digital Strategy.

According to a gov.uk release, the government is eager to get behind the emerging technology following recent research conducted by Accenture which predicted the AI sector to add an additional £654 billion to the UK economy by 2035.

After months of delay, the government’s Digital Strategy is expected to be announced this week by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.

The strategy will reportedly include a ‘major’ AI review led by Dame Wendy Hall, Professor of Computing at the University of Southampton, and BenevolentTech CEO Jérôme Pesenti, which will identify areas of the technology that can thrive in the UK, as well as ways industry could work alongside the government to support AI initiatives.

The programme will also see new funding of £17.3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) directed at UK universities conducting research into Robotics and AI applications.

The AI support will echo a wider push from the government to boost areas of strength and put the country at the forefront of global technology research in cybersecurity, connected devices, and driverless vehicles, among other innovations. The investment is also expected to cover a comprehensive modernisation framework for the UK’s civil service.

‘Britain has a proud history of digital innovation – from the earliest days of computing to Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s development of the World Wide Web,’ said Bradley in the official release.

‘We are already pioneers in today’s artificial intelligence revolution and the Digital Strategy will build on our strengths to make sure UK-based scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs continue to be at the forefront. Technologies like AI have the potential to transform how we live, work, travel and learn,’ she added.

Business Secretary Greg Clark further commented: ‘Investment in robotics and artificial intelligence will help make our economy more competitive, build on our world-leading reputation in these cutting-edge sectors and help us create new products, develop more innovative services and establish better ways of doing business.’

Clark continued that the new digital proposals will fall in line with the recently launched Industrial Strategy which seeks to leverage British business strengths and support new technologies where the UK has the opportunity to take a world-leading position.


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