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UK firms to get £13m AI funding

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An engineer at work in robotics research facility. Photo: Monty Rakusen/Getty
An engineer at work in robotics research facility. Photo: Monty Rakusen/Getty

British businesses could soon benefit from brand new artificial intelligence technology, the government announced on Friday.

Up to 40 artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis projects will receive a portion of £13m in government investment, according to Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate said the funding will “support collaborative industry and research projects to develop the next generation of professional services”.

About £6m of the funding will go to large collaborative projects addressing “sector-wide challenges”, while the other £7m has been awarded across 36 smaller projects applying AI and data techniques, Innovate said.

One project to receive funding is the development of breakthrough AI for the anti-fraud sector, which Innovate claims will “enable the UK accountancy, insurance and legal services industries to transform how they operate”.

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The technology is currently being developed by software firms Intelligent Voice and Strenuus, alongside the University of East London. It will combine AI and voice recognition to “detect and interpret emotion and linguistics to assess the credibility of insurance claims”, according to Innovate.

Insurance fraud cost the UK £3bn in 2017, £10,400 per fraudulent claim, and costing consumers an extra £50 per policy.

Other projects include an online bot that will use AI to provide quick answers to legal questions, an analysis tool that looks at images provided by drones to assess flood damage, and AI software that will analyse accounting data and suggest ways for businesses to cut expenditure.

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Greg Clark, business secretary, said: “Artificial intelligence and data are transforming industries across the world. We are combining our unique heritage in AI with our world beating professional services to put the UK at the forefront of these cutting-edge technologies and their application.

“We want to ensure businesses and consumers benefit from the application of AI – from providing quicker access to legal advice for customers, to tackling fraudulent insurance claims, these projects illustrate our modern Industrial Strategy in action.

“We’re investing record levels in research and development so that every part of the UK can benefit from the industries and high-skilled jobs of the future.”

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The new projects are part of the £20m Next Generation Services Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is administered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to support the development and adoption of AI and data technologies to transform the UK’s services industries.

Professor Mark Walport, chief executive of UKRI, said: “The service industry around the world is being transformed by information technology. The Next Generation Services Challenge offers important opportunities for transformation of the legal, insurance and accountancy sectors across the UK.

“Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund we are building on UK expertise in artificial intelligence and data science to deliver benefits that will be felt in the services sector and beyond.”

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