The UK is ramping up its commitment to developing the latest artificial intelligence technologies through a new partnership between the Government and industry which will see an investment of £370 million over the next five years aimed at delivering 2,700 new PhD places in biosciences and AI.
The ultimate aim of the programme is to transform healthcare, improve mental health diagnosis and build more sustainable transport.
The majority of the funding - up to £200 million - will fund 1,000 new PhD places to study AI which could help diagnose diseases like cancer earlier and make industries, including aviation and automotive, more sustainable.
The first 200 students will be studying at 14 universities across the country, working closely with 300 leading businesses, including AstraZeneca, Google, Rolls-Royce and NHS Trusts.
The remaining £170 million will fund 1,700 places to study PhDs in biosciences helping to tackle issues like feeding the world’s growing population and helping people stay healthier for longer.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore said that AI has the potential to boost productivity and enhance every industry across the economy, from developing new treatments for life-threatening diseases to tackling climate change.
He added: "The UK is a petri-dish for incredible talent and we’re passionate about nurturing the next generation of world-class scientists, so the UK remains at the forefront of research and innovation. That is why we’re investing in the AI and bioscience PhD research. These critical areas will transform the UK economy and create the highly-skilled workforce we need for the future."
In a separate move, Skidmore also unveiled the first five AI Turing Fellowships, the UK’s national institute for AI and data science, and called for further top, international academic talent to join these researchers, with £37.5 million in further funding available.
The Fellows’ projects range from determining the impact of digital technologies such as social media on mental health; and building a sustainable aviation industry by helping the sector build faster, lighter and more environmentally friendly aircraft.
TechUK associate director of technology and policy Sue Daley said: "Creating a steady pipeline of tech talent is imperative to remaining a leader in the AI and data revolution. Government-industry collaboration is crucial to addressing the UK’s current digital skills gap and we are proud to see industry demonstrating its commitment to developing the next generation of AI talent.