£200m to create a new generation of Artificial Intelligence leaders


One thousand new research and business leaders will be created to ensure the UK leads the global revolution in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This new generation of PhD students will use AI technology to improve healthcare, tackle climate change and create new commercial opportunities, thanks to a £100m investment from UK Research and Innovation announced today, Thursday 21 February 2019.

They will be trained at 16 new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) based at 14 UK universities with 300 partners, including AstraZeneca, Google and Rolls-Royce, and NHS trusts. Project partners are investing £78 million in cash or in-kind contributions and partner universities are committing a further £23 million, resulting in an overall investment of more than £200 million.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK has long been a nation of innovators and today’s package of 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.”

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “The UK is not only the birthplace to the father of artificial intelligence, Alan Turing, but we are leading the way on work to ensure AI innovation has ethics at its core.

“We want to keep up this momentum and cement our reputation as pioneers in AI. Working with world class academic institutions and industry we will be able to train the next generation of top-tier AI talent and maintain the UK’s reputation as a trailblazer in emerging technologies.”

AI has the potential to further transform the way we work and live, allowing complex tasks to be completed quickly and useful insights to be gleaned from large quantities of information.

One example is in healthcare, where AI is being developed to analyse information and images, such as X-ray scans, to pick up abnormalities at an earlier stage and ensure that patients can receive life-saving treatment.

The investment will sustain a pipeline of talent and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of emerging technologies, supporting the commitment in the government’s AI Sector Deal. Also announced today are 200 new AI Masters places at UK universities and up to five new research fellows, created in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute to retain and attract top AI talent in UK academic institutions.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “Artificial intelligence is a disruptive technology in a range of sectors, enabling new products and services and transforming data science. It allows us to develop new approaches to challenges as diverse as early disease diagnosis and climate change.

“To maintain its leadership in AI, the UK will need a new generation of researchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs equipped with new skills. Working with partners across academia and industry, the centres announced today will provide the foundations for these future leaders.”


A full list of the UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence:

UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Foundational Artificial Intelligence

Led by: Professor David Barber, UCL

As we become increasingly reliant on automation it is vital that the UK remains at the forefront of developing and exploiting AI for the benefit of society, science and industry. Whilst progress has been rapid, for AI systems to progress beyond existing tools they must be able to handle vast cultural, physical and emotional knowledge. To address this challenge and to expand on the significant industry investment in AI in the UK, the CDT will train students to be leaders in creating new AI technologies. Each foundational advance creates both scientific and commercial opportunities – societies that can create next generation AI will have an economic advantage. The promise of AI is vast and by training students to make foundational advances the CDT aims to unlock the potential for AI to transform society for the better.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI-enabled Healthcare Systems

Led by: Professor Geraint Rees, UCL

The CDT will use AI to transform healthcare by extracting more information from patient data to accelerate diagnosis and improve patient outcomes. Graduates will be trained by world-leading AI researchers and work in NHS organisations, creating adaptive and flexible systems that improve how healthcare organisations operate and delivering personalised and targeted treatments for patients. This integration will enable rapid real-world piloting of AI on hardware embedded in hospitals and GP practices. The CDT will not only apply AI to healthcare but apply healthcare to AI, generating novel large-scale open datasets driving methodological innovation in AI. The Centre will align with broader health data science initiatives and will be fertilised by leading academics who combine clinical with AI expertise and have commercial connections including companies that have already succeeded in deploying their products in the NHS.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Environmental Intelligence: Data Science and AI for Sustainable Futures

Led by: Professor Gavin Shaddick, University of Exeter

The vision of the CDT is to enhance society’s resilience to changes in our environment through Environmental Intelligence (EI): the use of AI to understand complex interactions between the environment, climate, natural ecosystems, human social and economic systems, and health. This EI will increase our understanding of environmental challenges, provide evidence for informed decision-making and provide personalised information that can inform business decisions and support behavioural change.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Natural Language Processing

Led by: Professor Mirella Lapata, University of Edinburgh

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a field of AI that is developing a greater AI understanding of human language processes to allow it to respond to the reality of human speech. The CDT will equip a new generation of experts in NLP, developing future leaders and producing cutting-edge research with relevance to a wide range of applications that translate text, recognise or produce speech, answer questions, retrieve documents or facts, respond to commands, summarise articles, and simplify texts for children or non-native speakers.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence and Music

Led by: Professor Simon Dixon, Queen Mary University of London

The core area of the CDT is in Music Information Research, or Music Informatics, a research area of importance to the UK’s Creative Industries focusing on the development of new approaches to understand and model music and to develop products and services for creation, interaction and experience of music and music-related information. Research at the CDT will focus on music understanding, intelligent instruments and interfaces, and computational creativity, guided by real application needs from partners across the digital music world.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Speech and Language Technologies and their Applications

Led by: Professor Thomas Hain, University of Sheffield

The vision of the CDT is to create a world-leading centre for training Speech and Language Technologies (SLT) scientists and engineers, providing advanced training in the theory and application of computational speech and language processing. The CDT will foster interdisciplinary approaches, innovation and engagement, with partners including Microsoft, Google and Amazon. Research projects will focus on researching and developing robust methods for natural language and speech processing in challenging real-world scenarios; making SLTs scalable, adaptable and interactive; and stimulating novel applications of SLTs in areas such as health, robotics and manufacturing.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare

Led by: Dr Aldo Faisal, Imperial College London

AI in healthcare can provide more accurate decisions faster, while reducing cost and suffering across society. In collaboration with clinicians, technology companies and patient organisations the CDT will focus making healthcare provision more efficient and effective by increasing the productivity of nurses; developing AI-based diagnostics and monitoring that can detect disease earlier and monitor health with more precision; develop AI-based decision support systems that can empower patients to be active agents within decision-making through explaining; and biomedical discovery such as drug development.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Accountable, Responsible and Transparent AI

Led by: Professor Eamonn O’Neill, University of Bath

Decisions in the development of AI, and how and when to use it or not, must be informed and ethical decisions. The pervasive impact of AI means that we need individuals making those decisions to be trained not only in AI but also in the applications and implications of AI across domains from engineering to public policy. The CDT aims to produce interdisciplinary graduates who will be able to act as leaders and innovators with the knowledge to make the right decisions on what is possible, what is desirable, and how AI can be most safely, ethically and effectively deployed.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Advanced Computing

Led by: Professor Gert Aarts, Swansea University

Research in science, health and engineering relies on AI to support a wide range of activities, from the discovery of gravitational waves to the detection of breast cancer and development of autonomous decision-making. The CDT will engage with data from large science facilities such as the Large Hadron Collider and Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory; biological, health and clinical sciences; and novel mathematical, physical and computer science approaches to train doctoral researchers who can make an impact across a wide range of disciplines and industries.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Machine Intelligence for Nano-electronic Devices and Systems

Led by: Professor Tim Norman, University of Southampton

The use of AI through systems of interconnected devices in the Internet of Things is increasingly important, with applications including connected health and smart homes and cities. The CDT will train researchers to lead the development of a next generation of intelligent, embedded systems, with its cross-disciplinary programme crossing emerging AI algorithms and models with advances in device technologies.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Biomedical Artificial Intelligence

Led by: Professor Guido Sanguinetti, University of Edinburgh

AI techniques hold huge promise to extract knowledge from biomedical data sets, with a significant potential impact for public health and the UK bioeconomy. The CDT aims to spearhead the development and deployment of AI techniques in the biomedical sector, focusing on the technical, biomedical and socio-ethical aspects of biomedical AI which could be used in biomedical applications.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Social Intelligent Artificial Agents (SOCIAL)

Led by: Professor Alessandro Vinciarelli, University of Glasgow

Artificial Social Intelligence is the area of AI focusing on endowing machines with the ability to interact with human users in the same way that people interact with each other. As well as training in key areas of AI such as human-computer interaction and machine learning, students will be trained by specialists in fields such as psychology, social sciences, ethics and neuroscience. Research will be developed in collaboration with industry partners to address real-world industry problems.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Interactive Artificial Intelligence

Led by: Professor Peter Flach, University of Bristol

Many AI challenges of tomorrow revolve around the need for interactive intelligent systems in which humans play an essential role, from users interrogating the system to seek assurance of its trustworthiness and fairness, to operators requiring confirmation that a system’s performance remains within acceptable limits. Building on Bristol’s unique strengths in intelligent systems, machine learning, and human-computer interaction, the Centre for Doctoral Training in Interactive Artificial Intelligence will equip researchers with the skills needed to design and deliver AI systems that satisfy the fundamental need for meaningful and productive interaction with humans.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Application of Artificial Intelligence to the study of Environmental Risks (AI4ER)

Led by: Professor Simon Redfern, University of Cambridge

AI will transform our ability to understand, monitor and predict the environmental risks associated with population and economic growth, which place increasing demands on a finite planet. Climate change and ever more complex urban lifestyles are amplifying our vulnerability to floods, earthquake, and volcanic eruptions, while biodiversity plunges. Yet AI methods, applied to new and ever larger data sets, can tell us more than we have ever known or understood about the world around us. This programme will train a new generation of innovation leaders to tackle the challenges faced by societies living in the face of environmental risk. It will develop new methods to exploit AI’s potential to analyse complex environmental data and thus help plan sustainable pathways to the future.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence

Led by: Professor Michael Luck, King’s College London

The CDT will train scientists and engineers in model-based AI approaches and their use in developing safe and trusted AI systems. This means some assurance can be provided about system behaviour and we can have confidence in the decisions these systems make and the reasons for making them. CDT researchers will also be versed in the implications of AI for wider society including, for example, how self-driving cars might reason about interactions with people and the actions they should take.

UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Artificial Intelligence for Medical Diagnosis and Care

Led by: Professor David Hogg, University of Leeds

In future, AI could automatically identify those at risk of cancer before symptoms appear and suggest lifestyle changes that would reduce long-term risk, greatly speed up and increase the reliability of diagnostic services such as radiology and pathology, and help doctors and patients select the most appropriate care pathway based on personal history and clinical need. With a focus on cancer and in partnership with key partners from the NHS and industry the CDT will train researchers to lead the transformation of healthcare through the use of AI.

Source: UK Research and Innovation

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