The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his Autumn 2023 statement has focused on tax cuts to aid people in the run up to Christmas, but the tech sector has not been forgotten.

In its Autumn statement, the Chancellor announced a number of initiatives to support the UK’s tech sector, including additional funding for artificial intelligence (AI), as well as R&D (research and development) tax credits.

It comes after the UK hosted the first ever AI Safety Summit on 1, 2 November 2023, attended by leading nations, AI experts and business leaders.

Autumn statement

The summit was deemed to be a success, and revealed the UK will invest £225m ($273m) into an artificial intelligence supercomputer, which will be called Isambard-AI, after the 19th century engineer Isambard Brunel.

The Isambard-AI supercomputer will eventually be connected to a newly announced Cambridge supercomputer called Dawn, which is the UK’s fastest AI supercomputer, which has been built by the University of Cambridge Research Computing Services, Intel and Dell Technologies.

The UK’s AI safety summit also delivered the ‘Bletchley Declaration’ – the first international declaration on AI, after countries such as UK, US, EU, Australia, and China all agreed that artificial intelligence poses a potentially catastrophic risk to humanity.

Now in his Autumn statement, the Chancellor continued to focus on AI, when he committed a further £500m over the next two years for access to artificial intelligence compute.

The UK’s is also seeking the civil service to improve public services by, among other things, setting up an ‘Incubator for AI.’

This will see hundreds of civil servants trained in programming, AI, and data science. Approximately £5 million will be spent on the team, for which 20 technical experts will be recruited.

The money is in addition to the government’s existing £100 million investment announced earlier this year, for the AI task force.

Quantum computing

In addition to the AI side of things, a number of quantum computing projects were unveiled by the Chancellor ahead of the Autumn statement.

While Hunt made no mention of quantum computing in his speech, a series of “quantum missions” have already been published as part of government ambitions to lead in the sector.

Among the quantum missions is a goal to have UK-based quantum computers capable of running one trillion operations by 2035.

It comes after the Chancellor in March had announced the £2.5bn National Quantum Strategy in the Spring Statement.

Other

Among the other items in the Autumn statement that could impact the tech sector was the Chancellor’s announcement of a freeze on the small business rates multiplier and tax breaks to offset investments in things such as machinery and IT kit, against corporation tax.

The Chancellor also sought to make the UK a more attractive place for foreign investments, with the creation of a new ministerial investment group tasked with boosting the flow of foreign capital into the UK.

Meanwhile, the West Midlands, East Midlands and Greater Manchester will become investment zones that focus on advanced manufacturing and green industries.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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