UK government announces £50m funding for AI in healthcare

12 November 2018 (Last Updated December 23rd, 2019 10:54)

The UK government has boosted its investment in AI in healthcare, as Business Secretary Greg Clark announces five new centres of excellence for digital pathology and imaging, and £50m in funding.

UK government announces £50m funding for AI in healthcare
Artificial intelligence has numerous potential applications in the field of healthcare. Credit: Shutterstock

The UK government has boosted its investment in AI in healthcare, as Business Secretary Greg Clark announces five new centres of excellence for digital pathology and imaging, and £50m in funding.

Artificial intelligence has numerous potential applications in the field of healthcare, with algorithms and predictive analytics driving advances in drug discovery, disease diagnosis and the designing of treatment plans.

The centres will use AI, an area backed in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, to find new ways to speed up diagnosis of diseases and detect abnormalities, including cancer, to improve outcomes for patients and increase NHS efficiency.

The NHS centres for AI in healthcare

Based in Leeds, Oxford, Coventry, Glasgow and London, the centres will utilise help hospitals make scans and biopsy images digital, cutting down manual reporting to free up more staff time for direct patient care in the NHS.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“AI has the potential to revolutionise healthcare and improve lives for the better. That’s why our modern Industrial Strategy puts pioneering technologies at the heart of our plans to build a Britain fit for the future.

“The innovation at these new centres will help diagnose disease earlier to give people more options when it comes to their treatment, and make reporting more efficient, freeing up time for our much-admired NHS staff time to spend on direct patient care.”

The investment in large-scale genomics and image analysis will also facilitate research into how complex diseases develop, ensuring people get the right treatment at the right time. It is also hoped that advances in artificial intelligence could lead to a whole new industry of diagnostic and tech companies which would drive UK economic growth.

The centres will be funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the government’s flagship investment programme that focusses on addressing the opportunities and challenges of the future. Some of the UK’s leading medical companies, including GE Healthcare, Siemens, Philips, Leica, Canon and Roche Diagnostics, will lead the AI in healthcare operations.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

“Early diagnosis of illness can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and save lives.

“The centres announced today bring together the teams that will develop artificial intelligence tools that can analyse medical images varying from x-rays to microscopic sections from tissue biopsies. Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis.”

The centres, which will be based at universities and NHS facilities, are expected to be opened during 2019.