Spring Budget Update: Why the £100 Million Turing Investment Might Be in Vain

By

Rich Wilson
March 27, 2024

In my most recent blog I talked about how the UK Government missed an open goal by repealing IR35 reform. It seems like most people agree with me that IR35 reform should have been repealed.

However there was some good news for the tech industry with the announcement of a £100 million investment in The Alan Turing Institute this could be a pivotal moment for the UK’s national institute for data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This infusion of funds is poised to have a real impact on the UK’s AI ecosystem, offering some benefits for large companies. Here are a few reasons it could be a good thing:

  1. Increasing Innovation and Leadership in AI: First and foremost, the investment reinforces the UK’s stature as a global leader in transformative AI technology. The Alan Turing Institute has been instrumental in cementing this position since its inception in 2015. With this new financial backing, The Turing is set to continue exploring AI’s frontiers, enhancing the UK’s national AI capability in ways that promise to benefit businesses significantly, particularly large enterprises that are poised to capitalise on these advancements.
  2. Driving Research to Address Grand Challenges: The Turing’s focus on addressing grand challenges in health, environment and sustainability, and defence and security directly aligns with many large enterprises’ core concerns. By advancing world-class research and innovation in these areas, The Turing is not just solving global issues but is also providing enterprises with cutting-edge tools and methodologies to navigate their sector-specific challenges more effectively.
  3. Environment and Sustainability: The emphasis on environmental sustainability resonates strongly with enterprises committed to reducing their carbon footprint. 
  4. Defence and National Security: Enterprises involved in defence and security can also look forward to enhanced collaboration with The Turing. Its proven track record of working with UK defence and security agencies demonstrates The Turing’s ability to convene diverse expertise across academia and industry, leading to innovative solutions that protect national interests and contribute to global security.

  5. Building Skills and Driving Economic Growth: Beyond research, The Turing’s investment in skill-building and its commitment to a fair digital society where AI and data science catalyse productivity and economic growth are particularly beneficial for large enterprises. By fostering an informed public conversation and working across disciplines, The Turing is ensuring that the workforce of tomorrow is equipped with the necessary skills to drive innovation and maintain the UK’s competitive edge in AI.

  6. A Collaborative Ecosystem: The Turing’s emphasis on collaboration — be it through public-private partnerships or its work with government bodies — is critical for large enterprises. This collaborative approach not only accelerates the pace of innovation but also ensures that the research is applicable and beneficial across various sectors, driving forward the entire ecosystem.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the £100 million investment in The Alan Turing Institute is a strategic move that promises to yield some dividends for the UK’s tech companies. However, the elephant still in the room is the skills shortage for AI and data skills in the UK, we found recently that 91% of tech leaders are impacted by this. We are creating more demand for AI projects in the UK but there is not enough talent to fill the roles created by this. Especially with the continued assault on the freelance economy through the lack of IR35 common sense, it does seem like many of these investments in AI could be in vain if we do no unlock the open talent community.

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