20 Oct 2021

A National Strategy to boost AI

Every so often, I stop and think about how rapidly change occurs around us. Looking back even just 10 years ago, something like high performance computing (HPC) was primarily the realm of research and academics. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) powered by GPUs and DGX hardware is seen by many as an engine of productivity and economic growth. Something that was once considered a futuristic technology is now having a real world impact. AI applications increase efficiencies, improve decision-making and generate new revenue streams for both companies and countries alike. In fact, Accenture Research found an AI-based economy could potentially double a country’s economic growth rate by 2035.

Knowing that, it makes perfect sense the government recently announced a National AI Strategy to “boost business use of AI, attract international investment and develop [the] next generation of tech talent” in the United Kingdom. The strategy focuses on three key pillars: guaranteeing investment in the long-term growth of AI; ensuring all sectors and regions of the economy benefit from AI; and implementing governance rules to stimulate innovation while protecting the public. The aim is to “position the UK as the best place to live and work with AI, with clear rules, applied ethical principles and a pro-innovation regulatory environment.”

People might not realise that the UK is already one of global leaders in AI, alongside China and the United States. Our country has a strong tech sector foundation both being the home for large global corporations and a nurturing foundation for startup and scaleup organisations. This is reflected in the £13.5 billion of global investment into more than 1,400 UK private technology firms between January and June this year - more than the other large tech markets of Germany, France and Israel combined. And, this is on top of record breaking investment levels achieved in 2019 and 2020.

Here at Kao Data, we see the potential AI offers every single day. To support the important work our customers are doing, we have built a community of AI enabled services and a home for innovative AI research by offering state-of-the-art technologies within an AI-specialist environment. The data centre is NVIDIA DGX-Ready and uniquely we are privileged to house the country’s largest and most powerful AI infrastructure research platform, NVIDIA's Cambridge-1 supercomputer, from our campus.

Powered by NVIDIA’s tremendous DGX SuperPod architecture the supercomputer is facilitating ground-breaking research as well as unlocking clues to diseases and treatments to benefit patients around the world. Established research organisations like King’s College London and Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust are already capitalising on the advanced Cambridge-1 infrastructure to accelerate research on brain disorders, like The Synthetic Brain Project. What is perhaps even more exciting is the launch of the Inception programme - opening up the platform to more than 500 UK healthcare startups – the first of which was announced as Peptone who will be using Cambridge-1 to scale AI-driven protein engineering.

The UK Innovation Corridor is already a hub for the dynamic ecosystem of the next generation healthcare science and research, and UKHSA will shortly be also utilising Harlow as a base for their operations. Having this combined scale of healthcare compute and authority available in their own backyard, creates tremendous opportunities for AI startup companies in the region.

The emphasis on innovation in the National AI Strategy is something we can easily get behind. We are firm believers in creativity, knowledge and entrepreneurship. Our commitment to technical excellence is built on the foundation of innovation as a standard. It's thrilling to watch AI being put at the forefront of the UK’s technology agenda. The potential to improve lives and solve complex global challenges is one we are excited to be a part of and look forward to where we, as a nation and an industry, go next.

Spencer Lamb

Spencer Lamb is Vice President at Kao Data and an experienced figure within the industry. He has a keen interest in HPC, AI and hyperscale computing.



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