In the run up to the UK’s hosting of the first global summit on AI safety, the secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, Michelle Donelan, has announced that UKRI is investing £37m in AI projects.
Some £5m will fund 100 projects located across the UK that look at the feasibility of using AI. The projects have more 200 partners and cover a spectrum of high growth sectors.
The funding is part of the UKRI Technology Missions Fund, delivered through the BridgeAI programme.
It will support businesses and research organisations to develop AI and machine-learning solutions to drive productivity.
In addition, a new competition, that opened on 27 September 2023, will offer a further £32m to new projects.
It aims to support the development and adoption of AI and machine-learning solutions in the sectors of transport, construction, agriculture and creative industries.
These will be led by UK businesses and involve collaborations between at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise, one large enterprise and one academic institution or research and technology organisation.
Donelan said: “When it is deployed safely and responsibly, AI can and will transform what is possible in the world of work, unlocking gains in productivity and efficiency that could never have been imagined before.
“That is why we are backing 100 small teams with the seed of an idea – from using AI to boost clothing recycling to driving housebuilding – to drive them forward.
“At the same time our £32m competition will support teams of all sizes to kick their ideas on to the next level, further helping us shape how this vital technology of the future can work for us and grow our economy.
“It is also why we are bringing world leaders and tech experts together in just a few weeks’ time for the AI Safety Summit, to build cooperation around the risks and opportunities of this incredibly promising technology and how we manage it safely.
The feasibility projects UKRI is funding include Kapdaa, which is developing AI-powered cloth recycling to reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint. Its technology has been developed to effectively sort and process textile waste by removing zips and buttons to increase recycling and reduce landfills.
Another project, Space Play in Birmingham, is developing bespoke foam models, developed by AI, that can streamline the process of safely transporting delicate artworks and in turn boost productivity.
Elsewhere, TradeWork’s AI-assisted project management systems could enable more efficient work scheduling, resourcing, budgeting and completion that in turn drives forward housebuilding.
Meanwhile, DigiLab, in Exeter, is helping farmers to identify and verify carbon capture and Better Environment and Transport is exploring AI solutions for net zero transport.
These AI solutions aim to help UK fire and rescue services to move their fleets towards net zero, as the country moves toward phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles from 2030.
Innovations and achievements in AI will be highlighted and celebrated at Robotics & Automation Awards on 31 October 2023 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Go to roboticsandautomationawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable industry event – and to book your table today!