£20 million boost for world class AI research could transform cancer treatment and save lives


Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will give 15 of the UK’s top AI innovators the resources to drive forward their ground-breaking research.

Discovering if people have cancer before it fully forms in the body so that they can be treated earlier is among the pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) research given a £20 million government cash boost today (Friday 27 November).

The prestigious Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will give 15 of the UK’s top AI innovators the resources to drive forward their ground-breaking research from speeding up medical diagnosis to increasing workplace productivity. These pioneering projects could enable the UK to meet some of today’s most pressing challenges, such as reducing carbon emissions, while helping to transform industries across the UK economy, including healthcare, energy and transport.

Among the AI fellows being backed today is Professor Christopher Yau at The University of Manchester, who aims to use AI technology to predict the development of cancer before it has fully formed in the body and therefore improving on current methods. If successful, this ground-breaking technology will enable clinicians to track cancer more accurately and help them decide at an earlier stage what treatments patients require. This would increase the chances of saving lives as treatment is usually more successful when given earlier.

A range of other ground-breaking AI projects are set to benefit from this new support, including research into energy efficient data processing – which would support key sectors such as energy, healthcare and finance at a time when demand for data is growing exponentially. Additionally, the development of an “AI clinical colleague” could further support doctors by recommending the most effective drug prescriptions and doses for patients – and helping them decide the best course of action for recovery.

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway said:

The UK is the birthplace of artificial intelligence and we have a duty to equip the next generation of Alan Turings with the tools that will keep the UK at the forefront of this remarkable technological innovation.

The inspirational fellows we are backing today will use AI to tackle some of our greatest challenges head on, transforming how people live, work and communicate, cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.

Digital Minister, Caroline Dinenage, said:

The UK is a nation of innovators and this government investment will help our talented academics use cutting-edge technology to improve people’s daily lives – from delivering better disease diagnosis to managing our energy needs.

The fellowships forms part of a major government investment in AI skills and research, including 16 Centres for Doctoral Training in AI and conversion courses to train the next generation of AI experts, announced by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October 2019.

Named after British AI pioneer Alan Turing, the £20 million fellowship scheme will be delivered by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and Office for Artificial intelligence.

It follows the publication of the government’s ambitious research and development roadmap in June this year, which committed to investing in ground breaking research and supporting the UK’s risk takers to scale up their innovations.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said:

The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will support some of our leading researchers to progress their careers and develop ground-breaking AI technologies with societal impact.

By enhancing collaboration between academia and industry and accelerating these transformative technologies they will help to maintain and build on the UK’s position as a world leader in AI.


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