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AI hub

Driving transformative innovations with AI research

Published on: 6 February 2024

Newcastle University has been announced as the lead of a new national artificial intelligence (AI) hub that will deliver next-generation innovations and technologies via edge computing.

Nine new research hubs located throughout the UK are set to unveil groundbreaking AI technologies as part of a co-ordinated investment by UKRI and Government.

These hubs, with investments totalling £80 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a component of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will be responsible in driving the evolution of AI within the UK to address intricate challenges across various domains, ranging from healthcare treatments to the development of power-efficient electronics. This substantial investment is poised to propel the UK to the forefront of advanced AI research with Newcastle initially focusing on the Healthcare, Transport and Energy Security sectors.

National Edge AI Hub for Real Data: Edge Intelligence for Cyber-disturbances and Data Quality

Professor Rajiv Ranjan, Chair Professor in Computing Science and Internet of Things will lead the National Edge AI Hub for Real Data: Edge Intelligence for Cyber-disturbances and Data Quality. The hub is supported by expertise from the universities of Durham, Hull, Imperial College, Southampton, Swansea, Cardiff, Warwick, Lancaster, UWS (University of West Scotland, St Andrews and Queens, Belfast.

The hub focuses on the effect of cyber disturbances and the effectiveness and resilience of Edge AI, with a particular focus on cyber threats and how to make it more secure and robust. ’Edge AI’ research being the study of how to apply artificial intelligence techniques near the source of the data instead of sending it to the cloud or a central server.

Cyber disturbances are caused by a variety of factors: system and software faults, human error, injection noise due to environment and cyber-attacks. The hub will focus on cyber-attacks as a key area in which to build on the significant strength of the partners involved in this hub.

Professor Ranjan said: “The vison of our hub is to deliver world-class fundamental research, co-created with stakeholders from other disciplines and regions, to protect the quality of data and quality of learning associated with AI algorithms when they are subjected to cyber-disturbances in the Edge Computing environments.

“With the collective expertise of the NUSE Group within the School of Computing, Professor Savvas Papagiannidis in the Business School, the leadership of Professors Phil James and Stephanie Glendinning in the Urban Observatory, and the Newcastle University Centres of Research Excellence engaging in multidisciplinary challenge-led research, our goal is to create a model that, in collaboration with our academic and industrial partners, enables us to explore, devise, and implement impactful AI research across the United Kingdom."

Professor Phil James added: ‘’The explosion in Internet of Things technology that are increasingly informing, and indeed, running our city’s infrastructure creates new technical and computational challenges.  Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory curates over 12 billion city observations and fuses data from bespoke sensors, operational systems and CCTV with over 400 observations every second. Reacting with appropriate situational awareness, fault-detection, ensuring data quality and security and providing future predictions are all challenges that the AI hub will support, driving better and fairer decisions in policy and development.”


Unlocking the potential of AI

Three of the new hubs will address the mathematics and computational research which is foundational to AI, playing a pivotal role in increasing our understanding of new, efficient AI systems. Six of the hubs will explore AI for science, engineering and real-world data which will provide the tools needed to accelerate future AI innovations and advance its application in key areas such as healthcare.

Minister for AI Viscount Camrose, said: “The investment we’re pouring into these new projects is only possible as a result of our pro-innovation approach to AI. The AI Regulation White Paper consultation response we’ve set out today will see us forging ahead with that plan, driving forward the next wave of brilliant AI innovations.

“These hubs will nurture new, cutting-edge breakthroughs, from healthcare treatments and more power efficient electronics to machine learning and chemical discovery.

“New projects being delivered by BRAID will also help to define responsible AI in key sectors such as education, policing, and the creative industries, ensuring public trust in the technology as we continue to harness its capabilities.”

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, added: “UKRI is supporting researchers and innovators to develop the next generation of AI technologies that will transform our economy and society. The investments announced today will help to deliver the capability the UK needs to realise the opportunities of this transformative technology.

“Through our £1bn portfolio of investments in AI research and innovation, we are supporting the development of new technologies, boosting skills, and accelerating the adoption of trusted and responsible AI.”

The hubs, led by eight universities but working across the whole of the UK, underline the UK’s commitment to maintaining a leadership position in AI research, innovation, and ethical deployment.   

Professor Charlotte Deane, Executive Chair of EPSRC, said: “Artificial intelligence is already transforming our world. EPSRC is supporting world-leading research to unlock its potential and ensure it is developed and used in an ethical and responsible way. Long-term research funding has led to revolutionary advancements to make AI a powerful tool for many applications.

“The hubs will deliver revolutionary AI innovations and tools in a range of sectors from healthcare to energy, smart cities and environment. Only by solving key challenges and improving our understanding of AI will we achieve the increased productivity and economic growth promised by this technology.”  

The investment follows an announcement during autumn 2023 for 12 UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). The UKRI AI CDTs will ensure that the UK has the skills needed to seize the potential of the AI era, and to nurture the British tech talent that will push the AI revolution forwards.       

Adapted with thanks from UKRI.


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