From education to employment

Business and technology heavyweights to turbocharge productivity through AI

Human hand reaching out to AI hand
  • New forum to boost adoption of AI in the private sector
  • Business and AI leaders including Google, Microsoft, Barclays and Vodafone unveiled as members
  • Forum’s first meeting to be held in February

Members of the UK’s first AI Opportunity Forum have been appointed today (Thursday 25th January) – with a clear mission to boost the adoption of AI in the private sector.

Overseen by the Technology Secretary and the PM’s Special Advisor on Business & Investment, pioneering AI companies will join forces with business leaders to bring their expertise to bear on encouraging adoption of AI across the private sector to boost productivity, fuel innovation, and deliver growth in all areas of the economy.   

The Forum will particularly focus on the AI culture and skills of organisations in the UK, how they manage governance, awareness, and risks of the technology, and the availability of data which they can tap into – a crucial component in the use and development of AI.  

Despite the importance of AI for businesses being almost universally recognised, only one-in-ten organisations are currently fully prepared to roll out the technology. The Forum will tackle this problem head-on sharing best practice and identifying measures which organisations can adopt to improve their AI readiness.

It builds on the Prime Minister’s AI Safety Summit held at Bletchley Park which set a path for building a global approach to ensuring safe and responsible AI, such as the UK’s trailblazing launch of a new AI Safety Institute.

The UK’s continued international collaboration efforts through the AI Safety Institute and fora such as the G7 Hiroshima AI Process, Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), the G20, and the UN will continue to advance this conversation, ensuring the entire global community can safely realise the benefits of AI adoption.  

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:  

“We stand on the cusp of a productivity revolution – one which has the potential to grow the economy in a way we’ve never seen before. So, it’s important we get it right.

“This forum builds on the AI Safety Summit – putting the UK at the vanguard of AI innovation to help us safely embrace AI in a way that delivers for British people.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, said:  

“We want to see organisations across the UK tapping into the transformative power of AI to boost their productivity, unlock new opportunities, and drive growth.   

“The AI Opportunity Forum brings together our brightest minds from the worlds of AI and business to drive forward that effort.  

“AI develops at an incredible pace, and we’re acting in lockstep to ensure businesses and employees in every sector of our economy can take advantage of this generation-defining technology”.  

Members of the Forum who have been unveiled today represent a who’s who of both industry and AI expertise. Co-chaired by Secretary of State Michelle Donelan and the Prime Minister’s Business Adviser Franck Petitgas, the Forum will also feature Microsoft and Google, as well as representatives of Quantexa, KPMG, Arm, Barclays, Vodafone, Universal Music Group, and GSK.   

The UK’s AI sector already contributes £3.7 billion to the UK economy and employs 50,000 people across the country with these figures set to grow. As we’ve seen over the past century, our economy and jobs market evolve with technology, with changes in technology creating new industries and new jobs.

CEO of Microsoft UK, Clare Barclay, said:

“Speed of AI adoption, backed by robust industry skilling programmes, will determine just how successfully the UK embraces this generational shift in how we live and work.

“The AI Opportunity Forum will help accelerate the private sector transformation we need to compete and lead in the global economy.”

Managing Director of Google UK, Debbie Weinstein, said:

“We’re looking forward to working alongside the government to ensure that British businesses are well equipped to harness the benefits of AI. 

“Google’s UK Economic Impact Report highlighted the scale of this opportunity, with forecasts showing that AI-powered innovation could create over £400 billion in economic value for the UK economy by 2030. Initiatives like the Government’s AI Opportunity Forum are key for unlocking the transformative potential of a technology which has the potential to boost productivity, fuel creativity and drive tech-led growth across a variety of sectors up and down the country.”

Chief Executive Officer of GSK, Emma Walmsley, said:

“We’re very optimistic about the opportunities for positive impact from AI, not just for GSK but for the UK’s short and long-term economic growth, innovation and skills development.

“The UK has the potential and talent to exploit these transformative technologies, but faster adoption is key. This new forum brings together businesses large and small with AI developers to develop practical ideas and support and we look forward to contributing.”

Quantexa CEO, Vishal Marria, said:

“As an AI first technology company, Quantexa is thrilled to be involved in the AI Opportunity Forum, and proud to be part of this investment in UK-based innovation that positions the UK at the forefront of AI on the world stage”

“We have been investing in AI since our inception, and it lies at the heart of Quantexa technology. But what we have seen over the last 12 months – is its adoption and impact accelerate. We see AI as the biggest technological breakthrough for generations and are ramping our investment in AI because we know this is going to transform how organizations make decisions.

“Understandably, there are concerns around the associated risks of AI. But, with the safe and ethical adoption of AI technology, there are huge opportunities for UK businesses across industry sectors to accelerate productivity and growth”.

Chief Executive Officer of Sage, Steve Hair, said:

“At Sage, we’ve been using AI to bring practical time saving solutions to small and medium-sized businesses for some time.  AI has the potential to improve the UK’s productivity and simplify everyday tasks like invoicing, managing late payments, and handling tax and cash flow issues.

“To make AI more effective and trustworthy, there is a need for more collaboration between the government and the tech sector to nurture the digital economy and ensure SMBs are adopting digital tools to reap the benefits of AI. The AI Opportunity Forum is a step towards this goal, aiming to bring real AI solutions to real businesses.”

The government is also stepping up its plans to accelerate the rollout of AI across the public sector. Earlier this month, the Central Digital and Data Office published a new framework which will implement principles for government departments on the responsible use of Generative AI. Written in collaboration with industry, the framework also looks to upskill civil servants through free generative AI courses to ensure public servants have a robust set of skills when working with AI. 

The Forum will now gather for its first meeting in February, with further meetings taking place bi-monthly.  

Related Articles