New UCL AI hub announced as part of £80m boost for AI research

The UCL AI hub in Generative Models, led by Professor David Barber, will develop tools to help build responsible generative models, while Professor Ricardo Silva is named co-investigator for a separate hub using AI to improve healthcare.

The hubs are two of nine artificial intelligence research hubs announced today that will deliver next-generation innovations and technologies. From combating cyber threats, to supporting better health treatments and delivering faster development of electronic devices and microchips, the research aims to transform the way we develop and use AI.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is investing £80 million in the new hubs that aim to propel the UK to the forefront of advanced AI research.

Three of the hubs will address the mathematics and computational research which is foundational to AI, playing a pivotal role in increasing our understanding of new, efficient AI systems. Six of the hubs will explore AI for science, engineering and real-world data which will provide the tools needed to accelerate future AI innovations and advance its application in key areas such as healthcare.

AI hub in Generative Models, based at the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence, will develop tools that industry, science and government can use to build responsible generative models to benefit the economy and society.

Professor Barber, leader of the EPSRC AI hub in Generative Models from UCL Computer Science, said: "I’m delighted that UCL will be leading a national consortium to develop next generation tools for AI. Generative AI is a profound technology that will impact many aspects of our lives, from our daily interactions with new digital assistants to helping us in the workplace, creating new entertainment and accelerating scientific discovery.

"The hub brings together a fantastic team from across the UK, including researchers from Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, Imperial, Surrey and UCL, to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of these technologies. We will address the technical, ethical and societal implications of their development and support economic development."

CHAI-EPSRC AI Hub for Causality in Healthcare AI with Real Data, led by the University of Edinburgh, will improve healthcare using AI by predicting outcomes and personalizing treatments, helping to unravel complex causal relationships within healthcare data. UCL’s Professor Ricardo Silva is one of the hub’s co-investigators, alongside colleagues from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, King’s College London and Imperial.

Professor Silva, from the UCL Department of Statistical Science, said: "I’m looking forward to contributing to the coordination of this exciting new EPSRC hub. Healthcare is a critical domain where AI is already presenting innovative ways of making use of rich data sources. It is time to take this to the next level with a nationwide effort, as high-stakes applications require multiple points of view and expertise.

"UCL’s Department of Statistical Science and the Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (IMSS) will play a crucial role in developing rigorous methodology and making the most of our strong multidisciplinary environment."

Professor Charlotte Deane, Executive Chair of EPSRC, said: "Artificial intelligence is already transforming our world. EPSRC supports world-leading research to unlock its potential and ensure it is developed and used in an ethical and responsible way. Long-term research funding has led to revolutionary advancements that have made AI a powerful tool for many applications.

"These hubs will deliver revolutionary AI innovations and tools in sectors from healthcare to energy, smart cities and environment. They will achieve this by solving key challenges and improving our understanding of AI, helping to drive the increased productivity and economic growth promised by this technology."  

The UK government has also published its AI regulation white paper consultation response, which details the UK’s own approach to regulation. 

Minister for AI Viscount Camrose said: "The investment we’re pouring into these new projects is only possible as a result of our pro-innovation approach to AI. The AI Regulation White Paper consultation response we’ve set out today will see us forging ahead with that plan, driving forward the next wave of brilliant AI innovations.

"These hubs will nurture new, cutting-edge breakthroughs, from healthcare treatments and more power efficient electronics to machine learning and chemical discovery."

Matt Midgley

Email: m.midgley [at] ucl.ac.uk
  • University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (0) 20 7679 2000