The Alan Turing Institute
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Margot James

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries

Margot James: deep AI expertise is central to the UK’s future

Britain has a long history as a global leader in computing technologies which led to the birth of artificial intelligence (AI). We are home to the early pioneers of AI – Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing and leading AI companies such as Deepmind, Swiftkey and world-class universities including Oxford, Edinburgh and Southampton.

Today I am announcing the next steps of our exciting AI journey which will see up to 200 new AI Masters places at UK universities. This new wave of AI experts will be funded by dynamic tech companies including QuantumBlack, Cisco, BAE Systems and Cambridge Consultants, as well as smaller UK startups WilmotML and Amplyfi.

New Centres for Doctoral Training located at universities across England, Scotland and Wales will support 1,000 AI PhD students. In addition to this, applications for up to five new, highly prestigious AI research fellowships, created in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute, are now open – allowing Britain to retain, attract and nurture the very best global AI talent.

All of these exciting new opportunities are through the joint government and industry £1 billion AI Sector Deal, which is putting the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence industry.

Growing a workforce of the future with deep AI expertise is central to the success of our modern Industrial Strategy. It will enable us to build on progress which has already seen artificial intelligence used to tackle some of the major issues of our times, including the detection of fraud and diagnosing cancer.

It is important we have female applicants to these courses. We know a diverse workforce strongly correlates with business success. The range of experiences and ideas that people from different backgrounds bring is a key driver of innovation so it is vital.

We need to push the boundaries further but this is only possible if we have the best minds, from both sides of the gender divide, developing cutting-edge technology right here in the UK.

Oxford Insights ranked the UK as number 1 in the world for AI preparedness, so we should seize that global advantage. With the right talent and access to data we will be able to unlock unknown possibilities to help make our daily lives easier.

Our action is being backed up by the statistics. Today, new figures published by Tech Nation reveal the number of venture capital investments into the UK’s rapidly growing AI sector leapt by 17 per cent last year, to $1.3 billion. That beats our three closest rivals; France, Germany and Israel.

This shows how the world recognises the UK as a great place to start and grow a digital business. We must now take advantage of our research excellence, skilled workforce and the regulatory environment to continue developing our ingenious technology further and cement this position.

I look forward to continued collaboration between Government, industry and academia as we drive innovation, change lives for the better and build a Britain fit for the future.

Margot James is the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries