The British government will be announcing 17.3 million pounds (equivalent to 22 million dollars) of funding for artificial intelligence and robotics research. The funding is part of the government’s digital strategy, which be published by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley on Wednesday.
A report last year by IT company Accenture estimated that AI technology could contribute as much as 653 billion pounds to the UK economy by 2035.
After the government was criticized in 2016 for its lackluster support for the British tech industry, the new digital strategy will include a review of the UK artificial intelligence sector by Professor Dame Wendy Hall, a computer scientist, and CEO Jerome Pesenti, who is a former chief data scientist at IBM.
According to professor Hall:
“Our scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the development of artificial intelligence and I’m looking forward to exploring how industry and government can work together to support the technology in the UK.”
Secretary Karen Bradley described a leadership role for the UK to play in pioneering artificial intelligence:
“Backing our thriving digital economy to expand and grow by putting the best foundations in place to develop new technology is a vital part of this government’s plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation.”
Earlier this year, in January, organizers of the Consumer Electronics (CES) tech fair in Las Vegas called the small UK presence there “a source of embarrassment.” Over 177,000 people participated at the robotics themed event, though many countries were better represented than the UK. France sent nearly five times as many tech firms as the UK.
Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes the gathering, said “Britain’s been a little slow to the game honestly. We have a minister from Britain coming but there’s not a lot of activity that we’ve seen at CES. I think it’s a source of embarrassment.”
A spokesperson for the UK Department for International Trade said it had every intention of supporting robotics companies in Britain.
“We want to help UK businesses make the most of trade and investment opportunities including in the US, through targeted support and bespoke business matching that better maximizes their presence to win vital contracts abroad,” according to the spokesperson.