Innovate UK has unveiled BridgeAI, a new programme and £100 million investment that seeks to drive growth in the UK economy through the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies.
The fund has been created to help forge connections between AI developers and four sectors identified as having high growth potential: the creative industries alongside agriculture, construction and transportation.
The investment comes in part from Innovate UK & the UK Research and Innovation Technologies Mission Fund (TMF) launched in March 2023. TMF will be investing £250 million in the years 2023-2025, across artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and engineering biology.
According to Innovate UK, the BridgeAI programme is intended to support the UK Government’s National AI Strategy and its drive for AI adoption across sectors.
“We aim to unlock the untapped potential of AI and drive greater productivity and efficiency across key sectors”, says Will Drury, executive director, digital and technology at Innovate UK.
“By nurturing AI innovation at the grass roots level, we’re confident that this programme will enable thousands of businesses to add even greater value to the UK economy and compete more effectively on the global stage”, he adds.
Encouraging sectors with low AI adoption
According to Innovate UK, the programme has identified the creative industries as one of four high-growth sectors, which also currently have low AI adoption rates.
AI continues to be a topic of discussion for designers, and we have previously covered a House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee debate on what AI will mean for the design industry as well as speaking to designers about whether they consider AI a threat or an ally.
Innovate UK explains that BridgeAI will be delivered in collaboration with a network of delivery partners “which share Innovate UK’s commitment to increasing the adoption and responsible implementation of AI”, including Digital Catapult, Hartree Centre (STFC) and the Alan Turing Institute.
Feasibility Studies competition
Innovate UK has also announced a competition for Feasibility Studies for AI Solutions. Targeted at UK-registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprises in the selected sectors, the competition will award up to £5 million to short-term (4-6 month) AI innovation projects “that address a business challenge or opportunity”.
Projects must involve collaboration with an AI developer or academic organisation and applications must demonstrate how AI can be used to increase productivity.
Suggested focus areas include “design” more broadly, as well as “data-driven decision making; automation of administrative tasks; project management optimization; supply chain optimisation and forecast models; waste management; and intellectual property management”.
Successful grant applicants can receive up to £50,000, and applications will close on 25 May 2023.
More information can be found on the website as well as a recording of the briefing event for the Feasibility Studies competition.
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