THE University of Southampton will be at the forefront of developing the next generation of experts and leaders in Artificial Intelligence (AI) thanks to its share of £100m investment from UK Research and Innovation.

Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science and the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics will use its share of the funding to create the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Machine Intelligence for Nano-electronic Devices and Systems (MINDS).

The MINDS CDT, one of 16 new centres announced under this latest round of UKRI funding, will lead a research training programme to turn PhD students into innovators.

There is currently a lack of AI specialists in the UK.

The centre will bring together a mixture of experts from the university and industry to focus on the benefits of future AI systems and their application in areas including robotics, embedded systems, manufacturing, security, smart cities and care homes.

These areas will be developed collaboratively with partners including Roke Manor, Thales, Intel, Huawei, AWE, IBM Research, Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, NXP Semiconductors, Royal Bank of Canada, Tata Consultancy Services, IP Group and and the university business incubator SetSquared.

Professor Tim Norman, director of the MINDS CDT, said: “We offer a unique environment for research and training that spans artificial intelligence, nano-electronics, embedded devices and their practical application, with a long track record of research collaboration between computer science and electronics.

“Southampton has one of the largest collections of AI researchers in the world boasting over £50M of funding in this area in the last 10 years touching upon applications such as the Internet of Things and Human-Machine Collaboration.”

Professor Themis Prodromakis from the Zepler Institute, added: “A significant barrier for the UK to be a leading player in the future of AI is the lack of highly trained experts that have the breadth of perspective required.

“This is certainly the case for AI in general, as recognised in numerous reports from government and industry, but also in the electronics sector, a significant contributor to the UK economy.”

“Our electronics industry base and robust future market for AI create an urgent need and at the same time great opportunity for the UK to strategically invest into becoming a globally leading supplier of novel hardware technologies delivering AI everywhere.”