The Alan Turing Institute to spearhead new cutting-edge data science and AI research after £48 million government funding boost

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UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has today announced funding for two major new research programmes in artificial intelligence, both led in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute.

The first programme will undertake and apply data science and artificial intelligence research with the goal to transform four key areas of science, industry and government, and the second is a pioneering collaboration with the British Library and other partners using data science and artificial intelligence to analyse the human impact of the industrial revolution.  

The programmes will be funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund, which is delivered by UKRI in order to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation.

Adrian Smith, Director of The Alan Turing Institute, commented:

“From using machine learning to improve healthcare, to analysing the vast amounts of data generated every day in industry, government or research, artificial intelligence and data science are fast-growing areas of science which stand to have a major impact on the UK’s industrial future.

“The announcement from UKRI today represents a substantial investment in artificial intelligence which will both catalyse existing research efforts and enable new scientific advances which will benefit the UK. We look forward to working with all our partners and the broader academic community to tackle these important research questions.”

Minister for Digital, Margot James, said:

“We are determined to make sure the UK remains at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are working with industry, business and academia to develop innovation that will change people’s lives for the better.

“Artificial Intelligence and data are at the heart of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business as we continue to build a Britain that is shaping the future.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said:

“Artificial intelligence and data technologies developed in the UK will have a positive impact across society.  For example, they can diagnose and treat illness, manage and minimise power usage and reduce crime.

“Through the Strategic Priorities Fund, UKRI is bringing together policy makers, academia and business to drive collaborations that will tackle some of the key challenges we face.”

The new programmes awarded funding today are:  

The Alan Turing Institute, via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and in collaboration with a number of other research councils, have been awarded a £39.3 million research programme into technologies of AI that will provide an all-pervading underpinning of future development in many sectors.

This programme will support a range of objectives covering four high-priority areas, with the aim to transform: 

  • engineering and urban planning, through the development of ‘digital twins’, digital replicas of physical systems.
  • health, through applying machine learning to assist in the detection and diagnosis of illness, and the planning and personalisation of medical treatment
  • the physical and life sciences, through applying AI to the vast amounts of data generated by scientific research.
  • criminal justice, through developing the technical tools as well as the ethical foundations to prevent crime, identify and rehabilitate offenders, and improve the operation of the criminal justice system.

This programme is being led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). It includes policy support from the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Researchers at The Alan Turing Institute will work across some of these challenges with government departments, such as the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. In addition, the outcomes of this programme will support the policy development of other government departments, such as the Department for Transport, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and DHSC. This programme will ensure that the UK meets the AI needs of the Industrial Strategy and stays competitive internationally.

The Alan Turing Institute and the British Library, together with researchers from a range of universities, have been awarded £9.2 million funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for a major new inter-disciplinary research project. ‘Living with Machines’, which will take place over five years, is set to be one of the biggest and most ambitious humanities and science research initiatives ever to launch in the UK.

The project will see data scientists from The Alan Turing Institute working with British Library curators, historians, geographers and computational linguists with the goal to devise new methods in data science and artificial intelligence that can be applied to historical resources, producing tools and software to analyse digitised collections at scale for the first time.

In recognition of the significant changes currently underway in technology, notably in artificial intelligence, the project will use the century following the first Industrial Revolution, and the changes brought about by the advance of technology across all aspects of society during this period, as its focus point.  

The partners for this important new research project are The Alan Turing Institute, the British Library, and the University of Cambridge, the University of East Anglia, the University of Exeter, and Queen Mary University of London.