NEWS16 March 2023

UK budget provides AI investment and R&D support

AI News Public Sector UK

UK – An annual £1m prize fund will be awarded to researchers developing artificial intelligence (AI) and increased investment has been made available to businesses for research and development (R&D), according to the UK government Budget for 2023.

corner of whitehall and downing street

The budget, which was presented to parliament yesterday by chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt, said that the £1m prize fund would run for the next decade and be presented to researchers that drive progress on critical areas of AI.

A quantum strategy has also been set up, worth £2.5bn over 10 years, to set out a research and innovation programme for quantum science and engineering, as well as supporting businesses in finding funding opportunities, creating a regulatory framework for the technology and driving the adoption of quantum technologies across the UK.

The government also welcomed Sir Patrick Vallance’s first published report into the regulation of emerging digital technologies and accepted all of its recommendations, including better regulating the applications of AI and promoting openness of public data.

Last week, an independent Future of Compute Review was released, set out that UK’s AI community has immediate requirements for large-scale, accelerator-driven compute to remain internationally competitive.

The government said it would support the industry though investing £900 million to build an exascale supercomputer and to establish a new AI Research Resource, with initial investments starting this year, to support the UK AI industry.

The government will also establish a taskforce to advance UK sovereign capability in foundation models, including large language models, and provide direct advice to ministers.

Around £100 million funding has also been awarded through the Innovation Accelerators programme to 26 R&D projects, including the Manchester Turing Innovation Hub led by the University of Manchester, two quantum projects in Glasgow led by the University of Glasgow and M-Squared Lasers Limited, and a project to accelerate new health and medical technologies led by the University of Birmingham.

To support R&D, from 1st April 2023, the government will introduce an increased rate of relief for loss-making R&D intensive small and medium sized enterprises of £27 for every £100 of R&D investment.

The policy builds on an announcement at the autumn statement in 2022 that raised R&D expenditure credit from 13% to 20%.

The government is also launching the refocused investment zones programme to 12 “high-potential knowledge-intensive growth clusters” across the UK, with access to interventions worth £80m over five years and plans developed collaboratively by mayoral combined authorities and central government in partnership with local universities, councils and businesses.