This week the UK government announced nine new artificial intelligence (AI) research hubs, which will be located across the UK delivering next-generation innovations and technologies.

The aim of the hubs is to provide focused investment to allow AI to evolve and tackle complex problems across applications from healthcare treatments to power-efficient electronics.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental public body sponsored by the UK government Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), has invested £80 million in the new hubs to propel the UK to the forefront of advanced AI research. Aims such as supporting better health treatments and delivering faster development of electronic devices and microchips, mean that the research will transform the way AI is developed and used.

Three of the hubs will address mathematics and computational research, which is foundational to AI, playing a pivotal role in increasing the understanding of new, efficient AI systems. The remaining six hubs will explore AI for science, engineering and real-world data, to provide the tools needed to accelerate future AI innovations and advance its application in key areas such as healthcare.

The announcement was made on the same day that the UK government published its AI regulation white paper consultation response, identifying the UK’s own approach to regulation.

Minister for AI Viscount Camrose, said:

“The investment we’re pouring into these new projects is only possible as a result of our pro-innovation approach to AI. The AI Regulation White Paper consultation response we’ve set out today will see us forging ahead with that plan, driving forward the next wave of brilliant AI innovations.

These hubs will nurture new, cutting-edge breakthroughs, from healthcare treatments and more power efficient electronics to machine learning and chemical discovery.”

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, said:

“UKRI is supporting researchers and innovators to develop the next generation of AI technologies that will transform our economy and society. The investments announced today will help to deliver the capability the UK needs to realise the opportunities of this transformative technology.

Through our £1bn portfolio of investments in AI research and innovation, we are supporting the development of new technologies, boosting skills, and accelerating the adoption of trusted and responsible AI.”

The hubs, led by eight universities but working across the whole of the UK, underline the UK’s commitment to maintaining a leadership position in AI research, innovation and ethical deployment.

The investment today follows an announcement during autumn 2023 for 12 UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). The UKRI AI CDTs will ensure that the UK has the skills needed to:

  • seize the potential of the AI era
  • nurture the British tech talent that will push the AI revolution forwards.

Professor Christopher Smith, UKRI International Champion said:

“These projects are vital and timely interventions from across the research ecosystem to support responsible, safe and beneficial uses of the transformative power of AI.”

In Australia the National Policy Roadmap for AI in Healthcare was launched in November 2023 at the AI.Care conference. The recommendations for research identified the urgency for significant targeted support for healthcare AI research, highlighting the importance of a robust safety framework to ensure patients benefit from the developments offered by AI through the enhanced skills of the workforce, literacy among consumers and the development of the AI industry.