Government and industry to fund next generation of AI talent

Graduates are being encouraged to become qualified experts in artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a new joint government-industry package to drive up skills in the AI sector, business secretary Greg Clark and digital secretary Jeremy Wright announced this week.

For the first time, the UK will have a nationwide programme of industry-funded AI Masters courses coupled with work-based placements.

Up to 200 new AI Masters places at UK universities are being funded by companies such as Deepmind, QuantumBlack, Cisco and BAE Systems. And 1,000 students will have the opportunity to enhance their skills with new PhDs at 16 dedicated UK Research and Innovation AI Centres for doctoral training, located across the country.

Additionally, up to five AI research fellowships are being created in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute to attract and retain the best research talent from around the world.

Eleven companies have committed their early support to collectively fund up to 50 of these additional places and work-based placements: Deepmind, Quantum Black, Cisco, WilmotML, BAE Systems, Accenture, Amplyfi, Cambridge Consultants, Cray, Nvidia and Infosys.

The announcement comes as new figures prepared for Tech Nation by show the number of venture capital investments into the UK’s rapidly growing AI sector rose by 17% last year.

Greg Clark said: “This AI skills and talent investment will help nurture leading UK and international talent to ensure we retain our world-beating reputation in research and development.

“Artificial intelligence has great potential to drive up productivity and enhance every industry throughout our economy, from more effective disease diagnosis to building smart homes. Today’s announcement is our modern Industrial Strategy in action, investing in skills and talent to drive high skilled jobs, growth and productivity across the UK.”

The schemes, aimed at people of different stages in higher education and available to researchers at a variety of levels, helps to build advanced AI skills at all levels, a key commitment contained within the £950m AI Sector Deal, part of the government’s Industrial Strategy aimed at putting the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.

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