Editorial

UK AI sector gets central place in Industrial Strategy money allocation

AI and robotics to get £93m as part of the government’s £1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, says Minister

Posted 25 April 2017 by

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark has confirmed that the UK’s growing robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) will receive nearly £100m extra funding over the next four years.

The news details just how much of the government’s £1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, announced in the March Budget, will be devoted to this growing part of the economy.

AI is one of several key areas the government wants to help:

  • healthcare and medicine
  • robotics and artificial intelligence
  • batteries for clean and flexible energy storage
  • self-driving vehicles
  • manufacturing and materials of the future
  • satellites and space technology.

The aim of the Fund is to try and boost overall national productivity by investing in areas of strategic future use to the UK, with Clark and his team claiming that have worked with businesses and academics to identify where “research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading”.

In the AI part of all this, the aim is to develop systems by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments like off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining.

The government would invest £38m in collaborative R&D programmes for driverless cars, as well as working with industry to develop next generation AI and control systems for the technology.

Other areas to receive funding in the scheme are clean and flexible energy, with £246m to develop low carbon technologies, manufacturing and future materials for the aerospace and automotive sectors, and a £99m fund for satellites and space technology.

For Clark, “The UK is home to some of the world’s best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence [and] the funding I am announcing today [will provide] hundreds of millions of pounds of support to develop the next generation of technologies across a range of sectors.”

The funding also “shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come”, the Minister added.

The issues raised by the announcement are bound to be debated at the upcoming Think AI For Public Sector 2017 one-day conference, which will allow public sector decision makers a chance to get a full grasp of what these technologies will mean for the sector.