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UK Spring Budget: AI and Quantum Research to Receive Funding

In a budget focused on heating price caps, AI gets some relief

Ben Wodecki

March 15, 2023

2 Min Read
Carl Court/Getty Images

At a Glance

  • Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has included several provisions to invest in AI research in the spring budget
  • Exascale supercomputing projects and quantum computing to receive cash boosts

The U.K. government has delivered its spring budget, which includes provisions to invest in AI technologies and research.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget includes a little over $1 billion to spend on a new AI research resource and exascale supercomputer.

The investments, which will begin later this year, will “provide scientists with access to cutting-edge computing power and bring a significant uplift in computing capacity to the AI community,” the budget reads.

A further $120 million of government funds has been allocated for the Innovation Accelerators program which provides developers and researchers with access to scientific expertise from the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The budget also includes plans to form a task force to look at foundational AI models. The task force, which will also research large language models like the newly released GPT-4, will provide direct advice to ministers on AI models.

The budget also includes funds for an AI Challenge, providing a $1.2 million prize every year for the next 10 years to researchers that “drive progress in critical areas of AI.”

The government also unveiled its Quantum Computing Strategy, which includes an ambitious ten-year $3 billion quantum research and innovation program. To read more about the strategy, check out coverage on the sister title Enter Quantum.

Reacting to the news, Mewburn Ellis managing partner Richard Clegg said it was good to see government support for research in AI.

“Developments in AI and related technologies have come a long way in recent years and are rapidly changing the world around us. However, it is a competitive global playing field and if the U.K. wants to retain its competitiveness it’s important to have long-term support like this.”

Ekaterina Almasque, general partner at early-stage European VC OpenOcean, argued however that the budget “underdelivers for the U.K. tech sector.”

“The introduction of new R&D tax support is certainly welcome, but many SMEs in the tech sector will still be left out in the cold. Whilst billions in funding for quantum computing and AI will certainly boost research in the area, many SMEs may still struggle to compete with larger corporates for the lion’s share of the benefits.”

Jason Tooley, VP for North EMEA, at Informatica and member of techUK's membership, finance and performance board, said the budget shows the U.K. “recognizes the value of data and enabling technology and is committed to becoming a digital superpower.”

“We need to get people excited about the future of disruptive technologies to ensure the U.K. remains at the forefront of innovation and tackle the technology skills shortage that risks hampering progress across all industries.”

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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