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The University of Southampton

Southampton awarded millions to lead Britain’s AI revolution

Published: 31 October 2023
AI brain and microchips
New £15m training centre at Southampton tasked with nurturing British tech talent

Southampton will be at the forefront of government plans to make the UK a leading force for artificial intelligence after it was awarded millions of pounds.

A new £15million training centre at the University of Southampton will be tasked with nurturing British tech talent and developing AI to tackle climate change.

The funding package, which includes £8million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will forge the new AI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Sustainability, known as SustAI.

It will train at least 70 PhD students in sustainable AI, with plans to advance the tech for use across renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.

SustAI director Professor Enrico Gerding , from the University of Southampton, said: “Environmental sustainability is one of the greatest challenges our world is facing – and many countries are setting ambitious targets to reduce emissions and increase renewable energy production.

“AI will be key to achieving these targets and, through SustAI, we will nurture the next generation of researchers, engineers and technologists who will be trained to create a sustainable future using AI.”

The £15million SustAI centre was announced ahead of this week’s AI safety summit, held at the famed Bletchley Park estate, which intends to fuel the UK’s ambitions to be a tech superpower.

It comes just months after Southampton was awarded £31million, also from UKRI, to launch the Responsible AI UK consortium to develop trustworthy artificial intelligence.

Associate Professor Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong , from the SustAI team, added: “Sustainability is at the heart of the centre, both in its research and ethos. We will equip our students with the ability to transform academic research and make a real change to businesses and society.”

More than ten other training facilities across Britain were also announced by UKRI, as part of a £117million package, all aimed at developing artificial intelligence.

UKRI chief executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said the UK is in a strong position to harness the power of AI to transform many aspects of our lives for the better.

She added: “Crucial to this endeavour is nurturing the talented people and teams we need to apply AI to a broad spectrum of challenges, from healthy aging to sustainable agriculture, ensuring its responsible and trustworthy adoption.”

Applications for students to enrol onto the University of Southampton centre will open soon – ready for the start of the 2024 academic year.

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