The UK government has announced a £210 million partnership with IBM in an effort to support businesses in the adoption of new digital technologies.
Unveiled by science minister Amanda Solloway, the investment goes towards the new Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI), which will be based in Daresbury and will apply technologies such as AI and quantum computing to accelerate discovery and innovation to industries including life sciences, materials development, and environmental sustainability.
It’s hoped that HNCDI will help businesses break down practical barriers to innovation such as access to infrastructure or digital skills gaps within their organisation. This will enable businesses to take advantage of new digital technologies, create new jobs and boost regional and national economic growth.
The government will invest £172 million over five years through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with an additional £38 million being invested by IBM.
Research undertaken through HNCDI will form part of IBM’s global Discovery Accelerator initiative, which seeks to accelerate discovery and innovation based on a convergence of advanced technologies by establishing research centres, fostering and enabling collaborative communities, and advancing skills and economic growth in large-scale programmes.
“Artificial intelligence and quantum computing have the potential to revolutionise everything from the way we travel to the way we shop. They are exactly the kind of fields I want the UK to be leading in, and this new centre in the North West is a big step towards that. Thanks to this fantastic new partnership with IBM, British businesses will have access to the kind of infrastructure and expertise that will help them boost innovation and grow the economy – essential as we build back better from the pandemic,” science minister Amanda Solloway commented.
“I am delighted to see the recent investment by the UK government to advance new digital technologies and reduce barriers to life science innovation. This news is especially exciting as Pacific Biosciences looks to accelerate genomics innovation in the UK and other parts of Europe. Collaboration is key to innovation and we look forward to partnering with innovation stakeholders and businesses to advance genomic innovation in the UK and the world,” added Neil Ward, vice president and general manager of Pacific Biosciences.
“HNCDI will enable the UK to develop the skills, knowledge and technical capability required to adopt emerging digital technologies, seeding the UK with new ideas and innovative solutions. The programme has transformative potential to generate long-term GVA for the economy by embedding AI solutions across UK industry. We are applying knowledge from the UK’s strong fundamental research base to develop tools and techniques that address identified industry and public sector needs, improving economic and societal outcomes,” said Professor Mark Thomson, executive chair of STFC Hartree Centre.
“The necessity to accelerate discovery–and the opportunity to do so with advanced technology through the scientific method–has never been greater. The Discovery Accelerator at the STFC Hartree Centre promises to be one of the key catalysts of discovery with far reaching benefits to the UK and beyond in the coming years,” said IBM in a statement.