UK government announces a £50m investment in new AI centers

The UK government has announced five new "centers of excellence for digital pathology and imaging" and forecast they will be operational by 2019


The UK government has announced five new "centers of excellence for digital pathology and imaging" which will use AI to fuel medical advances. The new program will cost an estimated £50m ($65m) and is set to open its doors in 2019, according to a government-issued report.

The five new AI centers will aim to accelerate the diagnosis of diseases to improve outcomes for patients. It will be based in Leeds, Oxford, Coventry, Glasgow and London and with locations at universities and NHS facilities, the report said.

Leading the five new centers will be a number of UK medical companies; GE Healthcare, Siemens, Philips, Leica, Canon and Roche Diagnostics.

The $65m funding, according to the report will be through a government investment programme called the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Wave 2 challenge, Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine. The fund is managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

UKRI chief executive professor Sir Mark Walport said: "The centers announced today bring together the teams that will develop artificial intelligence tools that can analyze medical images varying from x-rays to microscopic sections from tissue biopsies. Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis."

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The UK's secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark said that the new centers will enable early diagnosis, offering more treatment options, "and make reporting more efficient, freeing up time for our much-admired NHS staff time to spend on direct patient care".

According to the report, the $65m investment is a step towards delivering on a commitment between the government and the Life Sciences Sector Deal, announced in December 2017, which built on Sir John Bell’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in August 2017.

On a global scale, as R&D in AI adoption within healthcare advances, AI has become increasingly common in diverse sectors of medical applications. The University of San Francisco recently unveiled an AI medical lab and Danish startup Corti's has also formed partnerships with European governments with its AI system capable of detecting heart attacks .

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