Britain pumps cash into artificial intelligence before Brexit

Britain's Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark. (Reuters)
Updated 26 April 2018

Britain pumps cash into artificial intelligence before Brexit

  • The UK will announce a £1 billion joint investment in the artificial intelligence industry
  • It’s evident that Britain is a place that people want to come to for AI: business minister

LONDON: Britain announced on Thursday a £1 billion ($1.4 billion) joint investment in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry to capitalize on what the government sees as a competitive advantage in the sector as it prepares for life after Brexit.
The deal is the latest in a series of targeted public-private investment pacts in the government’s industrial strategy that aims to modernize Britain’s economy and address decades of regional and industrial decline.
“It’s evident that Britain is a place that people want to come to for AI,” business minister Greg Clark told Reuters during a visit to a facility in London that nurtures early-stage tech businesses from across the world.
“We have a position of strength that we want to capitalize on because if we don’t build on it the other countries around the world would steal a march.”
Governments worldwide are plowing cash AI to keep up with international rivals and seeking to harness its power to transform industries from transport to agriculture.
The European Union said on Wednesday it would boost AI investment by about 70 percent to €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) by 2020 to catch up with Asia and the United States, which are each investing at least three times more than Europe.
Despite offering less investment, ministers said Britain had advantages because it had established research capabilities, boasted a global financial center in London and hosted the headquarters of many major firms.
“The cross-fertilization that is at the core of the impact of artificial intelligence can happen here more easily than elsewhere,” digital, culture, media and sport minister Matt Hancock told Reuters.
The government said the AI industry could generate £232 billion for the British economy by 2030.
Britain’s industrial strategy is a flagship project for Prime Minister Theresa May, but critics say it lacks detail and any measurable progress since it was launched two years ago.
The strategy has focused on areas such as high-tech manufacturing, AI, cars and battery technology to help rebalance a services-based economy with declining traditional industries.
The investment announced on Thursday includes nearly £300 million of private investment in projects such as a University of Cambridge AI supercomputer, and cash spent on European bases in Britain for Japanese and Canadian venture capital firms.
Those funds will be matched by more than £300 million of public funding, on top of an existing £400 million budget. The funds will be spent on teacher training, research and developing regional technology hubs to explore how AI can be used in industries such as law and insurance.
A Center for Data Ethics and Innovation, look at ensuring the safe development of data driven technologies and ways to protect consumers, will also be set up.


Saudi companies display latest technologies at Dubai Airshow

Updated 17 November 2019

Saudi companies display latest technologies at Dubai Airshow

DUBAI: Over 25 Saudi companies and government institutions are taking part in the Dubai Airshow hoping to snag deals for their latest defense and aviation technologies being showcased at the biennial event.

The Middle East’s biggest aviation gathering opened on Sunday sans major announcements for big-ticket aircraft purchases from Gulf flagship carriers, maybe also due to dozens of deals already been previously signed and the planes just waiting to be delivered.

Among the major Saudi companies in the event include the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, which has operations from aeronautics, land systems, naval systems, weapons and missiles and defense electronics.

SAMI aims to become among the top 25 companies globally by 2030 and to localize military spending, in line with the Kingdom’s vision.

Among other notable Saudi companies and institutions with a presence at the airshow are Saudi Airlines, flynas, The General Authority of Civil Aviation and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

Meanwhile, Saudi INTRA Defense Technologies signed a Memorandum of Agreement with multinational defense company Hensoldt for the co-development and co-production of advanced electro-optic systems, as well as a joint venture agreement with EM&E for the transfer of technology and localization of the precision mechanical industries in the Kingdom.

ESEN Saudi, a hi-tech defense and aerospace engineering and production company, was also launched at the Dubai Airshow’s opening day.

Middle East Propulsion Company, which specializes in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) for the Middle East, was also one of the Saudi companies on site. The company, which boasts of a workforce comprised of Saudi nationals of about 80 percent, aims to expand their services across the GCC and wider Middle East region.

Al-Salam Aerospace Industries meanwhile has on display latest advancements in the manufacture of key components for the F-15 fighter jet.