In a landmark move, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has underscored the significance of Microsoft’s transformative investment, heralding it as pivotal for the continual expansion and innovation within the UK technology sector. The multinational tech giant is set to broaden its data center footprint across the UK, unveiling plans for new facilities in London and Cardiff, with potential future expansion into the North of England. This strategic investment aims to double Microsoft’s existing number of data centers in the UK.
The expansion will be accompanied by a substantial increase in processing power, with over 20,000 additional Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) slated to support the data centers by 2026. These GPUs play a critical role in machine learning, underlining their importance in advancing artificial intelligence (AI) development.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak lauded the announcement as a turning point for the future of AI infrastructure and development in the UK. Microsoft President Brad Smith echoed this sentiment, expressing the company’s commitment to ensuring the UK possesses world-leading AI infrastructure.
Beyond infrastructure growth, Microsoft’s investment is set to facilitate the training of over one million individuals in AI. Collaborating with various learning and non-profit partners, this initiative aims to bolster the nation’s expertise in artificial intelligence.
Marking Microsoft’s most substantial investment in the UK since its inception 40 years ago, this financial injection follows the Chancellor’s recent unveiling of a £500 million investment in AI. This substantial fund is earmarked for innovation centers, solidifying the UK’s position as an AI powerhouse.
The current contribution of the UK’s AI sector stands at an impressive £3.7 billion to the national economy, employing 50,000 individuals across the country. This investment surge comes in the wake of the UK government’s publication of draft guidance, crafted in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute and the Innovate UK BridgeAI program. This guidance aims to assist businesses in optimizing emerging AI technology and ensuring its safe integration into workplaces. The week has undeniably marked a watershed moment for the UK’s AI landscape, setting the stage for unprecedented growth and development in the sector.