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Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 156386, tabled on 22 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Government’s objective to lead the world in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and scientific research and the role of high performance computing in those areas, what plans he has to publish a strategy to ensure adequate computing capabilities are available for scientific and business communities to support that policy.

Answered on

2 March 2021

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) recently published a Statement of Opportunities on AI setting out UK’s vision to grow and maintain its international lead in AI research and innovation. UKRI has a key role in facilitating an inclusive and enabling environment for AI research and innovation, including seeking to ensure that professional skills, computing and data analytics capabilities are sufficient to meet the requirements of the UK’s researchers and innovators.

UKRI has been developing a strategy for computing infrastructure that includes people, software and data. Computing is one strand of a successful digital infrastructure ecosystem. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence, and the ability to create ‘digital twins’ of complex systems using High Performance Computing (HPC), have transformative potential for researchers, industry and the public sector. Their large-scale applications requires investing in a computational infrastructure that includes exascale supercomputers to enable the most challenging modelling and simulation problems and the largest AI training challenges. The UK is preparing for the arrival of the exascale era through investment in the UKRI-Met Office ExCALIBUR programme to develop exascale-ready algorithms and software. UKRI’s strategy is for the UK to deploy an exascale supercomputer by 2025.

Additionally, the Government will be investing up to £1.2 billion in new supercomputing infrastructure for the Met Office to provide the UK with world-leading weather and climate science capability.