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UK government to invest £100m in AI for healthcare and life sciences



The funding will target opportunities to deploy AI in clinical settings.

A new mission announced by the UK Prime Minister will accelerate the use of AI in life sciences to tackle major health challenges. 

In a speech on Thursday 26 October, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that £100 million in new government investment will be targeted towards areas where rapid deployment of AI has the greatest potential to create transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases. 

According to the government, the AI Life Sciences Accelerator Mission will capitalise on the UK’s strengths in secure health data and cutting-edge AI.

The Life Sciences Vision encompasses eight critical healthcare missions that government, industry, the NHS, academia and medical research charities will work together on at speed to solve – from cancer treatment to tackling dementia.

The £100 million will help drive forward this work by exploring how AI could address these conditions, which have some of the highest mortality and morbidity.

AI driven technologies are showing remarkable promise in being able to diagnose, and potentially treat, mental ill health. For example, leading companies are already using conversational AI that supports people with mental health challenges and guides them through proactive prevention routines, escalating cases to human therapists when needed – all of which reduces the strain on NHS waiting lists.

This funding is expected to enable investment in parts of the UK where the clinical needs are greatest to test and trial new technologies within the next 18 months. 

Over the next five years, the government plans to transform mental health research through developing world-class data infrastructure to improve the lives of those living with mental health conditions.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “AI can help us solve some of the greatest social challenges of our time. AI could help find novel dementia treatments or develop vaccines for cancer. That’s why today we’re investing a further £100 million to accelerate the use of AI on the most transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases.”

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan commented: “This £100 million Mission will bring the UK’s unique strengths in secure health data and cutting-edge AI to bear on some of the most pressing health challenges facing the society.

“Safe, responsible AI will change the game for what it’s possible to do in healthcare, closing the gap between the discovery and application of innovative new therapies, diagnostic tools, and ways of working that will give clinicians more time with their patients.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay added: “Cutting-edge technology such as AI is the key to both improving patient care and supporting staff to do their jobs and we are seeing positive impacts across the NHS.

“This new accelerator fund will help us build on our efforts to harness the latest technology to unlock progress and drive economic growth.

“This is on top of the progress we have already made on AI deployment in the NHS, with AI tools now live in over 90 per cent of stroke networks in England – halving the time for stroke victims to get the treatment in some cases, helping to cut waiting times.”

The funding will target opportunities to deploy AI in clinical settings and improve health outcomes across a range of conditions. It will also look to fund novel AI research which has the potential to create general purpose applications across a range of health challenges – freeing up clinicians to spend more time with their patients.

The government will invite proposals bringing together academia, industry and clinicians to develop innovative solutions.

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