Government offers cash boost for AI and robotics

The £700m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will concentrate on six core areas

The government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has launched today, inviting businesses and researchers to apply for funding to boost the UK's digital and technology economy.

There are six key areas the first stage of the fund will address, including developing new battery technologies for electric cars, robotics and AI systems that can be used for "extreme" environments, innovative technologies to help patients access new drugs and treatments faster, driverless car AI tech, aerospace materials and a satellite test facility.

Overall, there's almost 700 million up for grabs, with the money split into each discipline according to the urgency and importance to the UK's economy. For example, the lion's share will go towards the Faraday Challenge, which invites businesses to develop and test batteries that can be used in cars to promote a low-carbon emission economy.

"The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will target areas that are crucial to the economic and societal future of the UK," said Professor Philip Nelson, chair of the research councils and EPSRC chief executive.

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"It will help research and innovation to thrive and open up new possibilities for the country," he added. "We can lead the world in developing science that underpins new technologies and their applications. The Research Councils and Innovate UK will be working closely to bring about advances in all the first six areas."

Ruth McKernan, chief executive of Innovate UK added that it has already seen a great amount of interest from UK companies to apply for funding because businesses understand the importance of generating new ideas and innovations in the UK.

"I am therefore delighted that our first competitions for businesses are launched this week for the development of robotics and artificial intelligence systems that can be deployed in extreme environments," she added.

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