cancer patient hospital

Early cancer detection and other AI projects receive £20m UK funding

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The government has announced £20m funding for AI projects including one that could enable the early detection of cancer.

The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will give 15 of the UK’s top AI researchers money to help speed up their projects in everything from medical diagnosis to increasing workplace productivity.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said the money could also help the UK meet challenges such as reducing carbon emissions and transforming industries across the UK economy, including healthcare, energy and transport.

Among the AI fellows being backed today is Professor Christopher Yau at The University of Manchester, who aims to use AI technology to predict the development of cancer before it has fully formed in the body and therefore improve on current methods.

If successful, the project could enable clinicians to track cancer more accurately and help them decide at an earlier stage what treatments patients require. This would increase the chances of saving lives as treatment is usually more successful when given earlier.

A range of other groundbreaking AI projects are set to benefit from this new support, including research into energy-efficient data processing, which would support key sectors such as energy, healthcare and finance at a time when demand for data is growing exponentially.

Additionally, the development of an 'AI clinical colleague' could further support doctors by recommending the most effective drug prescriptions and doses for patients, and helping them decide the best course of action for recovery.

Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK is the birthplace of artificial intelligence and we have a duty to equip the next generation of Alan Turings with the tools that will keep the UK at the forefront of this remarkable technological innovation.

“The inspirational fellows we are backing today will use AI to tackle some of our greatest challenges head on, transforming how people live, work and communicate, cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.”

Digital minister Caroline Dinenage said: “The UK is a nation of innovators and this government investment will help our talented academics use cutting-edge technology to improve people’s daily lives – from delivering better disease diagnosis to managing our energy needs."

Named after British AI pioneer Alan Turing, the £20m fellowship scheme will be delivered by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and Office for Artificial intelligence.

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