UKRI invests in the next generation of AI innovators

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UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced investment in 12 UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) in artificial intelligence (AI) based at 16 universities.

The investment will continue to ensure that the UK has the skills needed to seize the potential of the AI era, and to nurture the British tech talent that will push the AI revolution forwards.

£117 million in total has been awarded to the 12 CDTs, which will train the next generation of AI researchers from across the UK. This builds on the previous UKRI investment of £100 million in 2018.

Doctoral students will specialise in areas such as developing a responsible and trustworthy future for AI, healthcare, agriculture, and environmental sustainability to media.

Next generation of AI researchers

Secretary of State Michelle Donelan said:

The UK is at the very front of the global race to turn AI’s awesome potential into a giant leap forward for people’s quality of life and productivity at work, all while ensuring this technology works safely, ethically and responsibly.

The plans we are announcing today will future-proof our nation’s skills base, meaning we can reap the benefits of AI as it continues to develop. At the same time, we are taking the first steps to put the power of this technology to work, for good, across Government and society.

Nurturing talented people

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said:

The UK is in a strong position to harness the power of AI to transform many aspects of our lives for the better. Crucial to this endeavour is nurturing the talented people and teams we need to apply AI to a broad spectrum of challenges, from healthy aging to sustainable agriculture, ensuring its responsible and trustworthy adoption.

UKRI is investing £117 million in Centres for Doctoral Training to develop the talented researchers and innovators we need for success.

Partnering with business

Dr Kedar Pandya, Executive Director, Cross-Council Programmes at UKRI, said:

 This £117 million investment will involve multiple business and institutional partners for the Centres of Doctoral Training. These include well-known brands such as IBM, Astra Zeneca, and Google, as well as small to medium sized enterprises that are innovating in the AI field.

A further £110 million has been leveraged from all partners in the form of cash or in-kind contributions such as use of facilities, resources or expertise.

Responsible and trustworthy AI

This announcement comes on the eve of the AI Safety Summit, being hosted at Bletchley Park from 1 to 2 November 2023.

The summit is another signal of the UK’s determination to lead the way globally on managing the risks around AI, together with partners from around the world, so that we can reap the enormous benefits this transformative technology has to offer.

The 12 UKRI AI CDTs are as follows:

  • Heriot-Watt University partnering with University of Edinburgh: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Dependable and Deployable Artificial Intelligence for Robotics (D2AIR)
  • Imperial College London: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Healthcare
  • Northumbria University: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Citizen-Centred Artificial Intelligence
  • University of Bristol: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Practice-Oriented Artificial Intelligence
  • University of Edinburgh: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Biomedical Innovation
  • University of Edinburgh: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Responsible and Trustworthy in-the-world natural language processing
  • University of Lincoln partnering with University of Aberdeen, University of Strathclyde, Queen’s University Belfast: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Understandable agri-food Systems Transformed by Artificial Intelligence (SUSTAIN)
  • The University of Manchester partnering with University of Cambridge: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Decision Making for Complex Systems
  • University of Oxford: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for the Environment (Intelligent Earth)
  • University of Southampton: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Sustainability
  • University of Surrey partnering with Royal Holloway, University of London: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Digital Media Inclusion
  • University of York: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Lifelong Safety Assurance of AI-enabled Autonomous Systems

The first cohort of UKRI AI CDT students will start in the 2024 to 2025 academic year, recruitment for which will begin shortly.

Top image:  Credit: sankai, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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