Government promises £93m funding for AI over next four years

£38m funding also planned for driverless car tech

The government has earmarked 93 million to spend on the UK's AI industry over the next four years.

The money will be spent to "make industry and public services more productive, by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments which occur in off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining", the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said as it unveiled the cash as part of an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

The government's plan to invest in AI will run side-by-side with a major review of the AI sector led by Wendy Hall and Jrme Pesenti as part of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport's Digital Strategy.

This will explore how the government and industry could work together to help the sector thrive in the UK, as well as adding 17.3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to the pot of available funds for research specifically focusing on projects being developed in universities.

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The investment in AI was announced at the Spring Budget, but this latest announcement by Business Secretary Greg Clark detailed six key areas in which the ISCF will release funds: healthcare and medicine, robotics and artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, manufacturing and materials of the future and satellites and space technology.

Although the budget for AI and robotics has already been approved, Clark said the ISCF will spend an additional 38 million in research and development for the driverless cars industry.

Clark explained the government hopes to work with industry partners to develop the next generation of AI and control systems to make the UK's contributions above and beyond those created by innovators in other countries.

"The UK is home to some of the world's best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence," Clark said. "The funding I am announcing today, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of support to develop the next generation of technologies across a range of sectors, shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come."

The government also said it would increase investment in research and development by 4.7 billion over the next four years, with 2 billion added a year between 2020 to 2021. This is more than has been spent on R&D since records began in 1979, it said.

When it was announced at the beginning of the year, Prime Minister Theresa May claimed the Industrial Strategy would help the UK become a country that can support itself, even without the support of the EU.

"As we leave the EU, it will help us grasp the bigger prize: the chance to build that stronger, fairer Britain that stands tall in the world and is set up to succeed in the long-term," she said. "And it is a vital step toward building a country where prosperity is shared, and there is a genuine opportunity for all."

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