The deal between government and industry, announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark and Digital Secretary Matt Hancock, sees the Government pledge more than £300m of newly-allocated funding for AI research in a bid to make the UK a global leader in the technology.
Building on the commitment made in the Industrial Strategy and its AI Grand Challenge, the deal marks the first phase of a major innovation-focused investment drive in AI, following PwC research which claimed the UK's economy could benefit from a £232bn boost from the technology by 2030.
The AI Sector Deal follows record levels of investments into UK tech in 2017 and includes a number of new investments as well as programmes which have already been announced. For instance, Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain is opening its first European HQ in the UK and investing £35m in UK deep-tech start-ups, and Vancouver-based venture capital firm Chrysalix is also going to establish a European in the UK and use it to invest up to £110m in AI and robotics.
Meanwhile, the University of Cambridge is opening a £10m AI supercomputer and making its infrastructure available to businesses, and the Alan Turing Institute and Rolls-Royce are to launch a series of joint research projects, including how data science can be applied at scale; the application of AI across supply chains, data-centric engineering and predictive maintenance; and the role of data analytics and AI in science.
The programme also includes money for training for 8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funded AI PhDs by 2025 and a commitment to develop a global Turing Fellowship programme to attract and retain the best research talent in AI to the UK.
As part of the deal, the accountancy firm Sage has also committed to delivering an AI pilot programme for 150 young people across the UK.
In addition, the Government will provide £20m of funding to help the UK's service industries, including law and insurance, with new pilot projects to identify how AI can transform and enhance their operations. And £21m will also be used to support uptake of AI through businesses by transforming Tech City UK, currently London based, into Tech Nation, creating a network of high growth regional tech hubs across the country.
The Government will also establish a £9m Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation, to address the challenges posed by the adoption of AI and advise on the measures needed to enable and ensure safe, ethical and innovative uses of data-driven technologies, while helping protect consumers.
Hancock said: "The UK must be at the forefront of emerging technologies, pushing boundaries and harnessing innovation to change people's lives for the better.
"Artificial intelligence is at the centre of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. We have a great track record and are home to some of the world's biggest names in AI like Deepmind, Swiftkey and Babylon, but there is so much more we can do.<
"By boosting AI skills and data driven technologies we will make sure that we continue to build a Britain that is shaping the future."