Microsoft has announced an investment of £2.5 billion in the UK tech industry over the next three years.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who recently hosted the AI Safety Summit, described it as “a turning point for the future of AI infrastructure and development in the UK.”
Microsoft’s expansion includes more than doubling the size of Microsoft’s data centers and providing some 20,000 high-end GPUs by 2026. Microsoft’s infrastructure will be targeted at London and Cardiff, with potential further expansion into northern England.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s vice chairman and president, said, “Microsoft is committed as a company to ensuring that the UK as a country has world-leading AI infrastructure, easy access to the skills people need, and broad protections for safety and security.”
BREAKING NEWS 🚨
£2.5bn investment in UK AI infrastructure by @Microsoft.
Powering the discovery of new drugs & tackling global challenges such as climate change by connecting research centres with high performance computing. pic.twitter.com/Td8VimoNSf
— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) November 30, 2023
This investment also seeks to bolster and support AI education, which has been a focus of both Microsoft and Amazon this year. Amazon recently announced vast funding in free AI courses under the “AI Ready” program. Microsoft similarly aims to train over one million people for the AI economy.
In terms of capacity, Microsoft will focus on expanding AI-specific compute power to meet growing demands from the private and public sectors. This includes prioritizing GPU access for the UK’s science and research community through the Accelerating Foundation Models Research (AFMR) program, involving leading UK universities.
Microsoft was keen to highlight its AI safety and security measures, which will again cultivate education and training with programs in collaboration with the UK Government and the newly formed AI Safety Institute.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said, “The UK is the tech hub of Europe with an ecosystem worth more than that of Germany and France combined – and this investment is another vote of confidence in us as a science superpower.”
Hunt is correct in that the UK AI market is currently valued at over $21 billion and is projected to grow to over $1 trillion by 2035.
This places the UK as the third largest AI market globally, following the US and China.
Between 2019 and 2021, there was a reported £9 billion investment growth in the AI sector, underscoring the UK’s leadership in AI tech among the EU.
Coupled with Sunak’s AI Safety Summit, which assembled both US and Chinese officials, the UK’s AI industry has looked quite solid.