UK launches $143 million AI skills package, with new visa scheme

The UK government has announced a £118 million ($143 million) skills package to help ensure the country has “top global expertise” for future AI research and development. 

The money will fund 12 Centres for Doctoral Training in AI — backed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a government agency — to train a new generation of researchers in the field of AI, with a course designed to ensure every student is trained in responsible, trustworthy, and safe AI while specializing in areas of priority for the UK, such as healthcare.

The government will also be launching a new visa scheme that it says will make it easier for “the most innovative businesses” to bring AI researchers at the early stages of their career to the UK, in addition to the creation of a £1 million AI Futures Grants scheme to help AI workers meet the costs of relocating to the UK. This will support emerging AI researchers and engineers from around the world to work at British universities, businesses and research institutes, the government said.

Finally, the British Council and UK Universities will fund 15 so-called GREAT scholarships for international students from 14 countries, allowing them to the UK to study Science and Technology courses, including subjects related to AI or life sciences. The government will also be supporting the Backing Invisible Geniuses (BIG) scholarship pilot, led by the Global Talent Lab, which champions outstanding high-school performers in International Science Olympiads, setting them on a path to continue studying maths, science, and AI.

“The UK is at the very forefront of the global race to turn AI’s enormous potential into a giant leap forward for people’s quality of life and productivity at work, all while ensuring this technology works safely, ethically and responsibly,” said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, in comments published alongside the announcement.

“The plans we are announcing today will future-proof our nation’s skills base, meaning British people can reap the benefits of AI as it continues to develop. At the same time, we are moving further and faster to put the power of this technology to work for good across government and society,” she said.

UK announces host of AI support ahead of Safety Summit

Ahead of the global AI Safety Summit being held at Bletchley Park this week, the UK government has announced a host of funding projects and initiatives aimed at boosting the country’s AI industry.

Earlier this week, the government announced it will spend approximately £100 million in the coming years to help develop AI technologies for the healthcare and life sciences sectors, as part of a formalized AI Life Sciences Accelerator Mission.

The program will look to tackle specific healthcare issues that represent areas of particular concern for the British government, such as precision diagnosis and treatment for dementia.

The UK also will establish the world’s first AI Safety Institute to examine, evaluate, and test new types of AI.

“The British people should have peace of mind that we’re developing the most advanced protections for AI of any country in the world,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a speech last week. “I will always be honest with you about the risks, and you can trust me to make the right long-term decisions.”

The AI Safety Institute will assess and study these risks, from social harms like bias and misinformation, through to the most extreme risks of all, so that the UK understands what each new AI model is capable of, Sunak added.

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