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Microsoft to invest £2.5bn in UK AI sector

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft is expanding its operations in the UK. Above, CEO Satya Nadella. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Microsoft (MSFT) has committed to spending £2.5bn to expand its AI datacentre footprint in the UK, in a move that will train more than one million people for the AI economy.

Microsoft will spend £2.5bn over the next three years to expand its next generation AI datacentre infrastructure in what is the single largest investment in the company’s 40-year history in the country.

Under the expansion plan, Microsoft will grow its UK AI infrastructure across sites in London and Cardiff. There is also a potential expansion in northern England.

To support UK workers across the AI economy, Microsoft will train one million people with the skills they need to build and work with AI, including expanded training for people looking to start, or move into, a career in AI.

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Microsoft will also bring over 20,000 of advanced Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) – which are crucial for machine learning and the development of AI models – to the UK by 2026.

Datacentres process, host and store the massive amounts of digital information that is critical for developing AI models.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Microsoft are one of the founding fathers of modern technology and today’s announcement is a turning point for the future of AI infrastructure and development in the UK.

“The UK started the global conversation on AI earlier this month, and Microsoft’s historic investment is further evidence of the leading role we continue to play in expanding the frontiers of AI to harness it’s economic and scientific benefits.

The UK’s AI sector also contributes £3.7bn to the UK economy and employs 50,000 people across the country.

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt welcomed Microsoft’s investment on a visit to one of its new, datacentre facilities under construction in North London.

“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 said.

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