UK launches £100m AI fund to find treatments for incurable diseases

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced £100m in funding for an accelerator that will use AI to find treatments for previously incurable diseases.

The AI Life Sciences Accelerator will be deployed over the next 18 months and target areas where artificial intelligence has the greatest potential to improve healthcare.

“AI can help us solve some of the greatest social challenges of our time,” said Sunak. “AI could help find novel dementia treatments or develop vaccines for cancer.

“That’s why today we’re investing a further £100m to accelerate the use of AI on the most transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases.”

The government said it is seeking proposals from academia and industry for the “new” investment.

A spokesperson for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), told UKTN the AI life sciences accelerator mission will start in the next financial year. It will seek to work with “academics, industry, clinicians, charities and across government”.

“We are committing £100m R&D funding over five years, which will help us invest in parts of the UK where the clinical needs are greatest to test and trial new technologies within the next 18 months.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “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% of stroke networks in England – halving the time for stroke victims to get the treatment in some cases, helping to cut waiting times.”

It comes ahead of the UK’s hotly anticipated AI Safety Summit this week. On Wednesday and Thursday, Bletchley Park will open its doors to tech executives, foreign diplomats and academics to discuss the risks of frontier AI technology.

Ian Hogarth, chair of the government’s Frontier AI Taskforce, published the group’s second progress report on Monday.

The report highlighted the expansion of its research team, 11 new AI partnerships, work on creating the AI Research Resource and a “cutting-edge research programme” to be revealed at the AI Safety Summit.