Microsoft will invest £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) into the UK’s artificial intelligence infrastructure over the next three years.
The firm has committed to more than doubling its data centre footprint in the UK and training over one million people with the skills needed to build and work with AI. It is also supporting the UK’s growing AI safety and research efforts by expanding its Accelerating Foundation Models Research programme.
Microsoft will grow its data centre footprint across sites in London and Cardiff, and potentially expand into northern England. Through this, it aims to help the UK create more than 20,000 AI-related jobs.
“This is the single largest investment in its 40-year history in the country which will see Microsoft grow its UK AI infrastructure,” according to a press release from the UK Government. “This £2.5 billion commitment was confirmed on Monday [27 November] as the prime minister Rishi Sunak unveiled £29.5 billion of investment in our most innovative sectors, including technology, life sciences, renewables, housing and infrastructure at the Global Investment Summit.”
Microsoft’s investment will also contribute to AI talent and education programmes to train people with the skills needed to build and work with AI.
“This infrastructure investment will help to meet the exploding demand for efficient, scalable and sustainable AI specific compute power and the needs of the private and public sector waiting to take advantage of the latest cloud and AI breakthroughs,” said Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, in a blog post titled ‘Our investment in AI infrastructure, skills and security to boost the UK’s AI potential’. “Working in partnership with multiple learning and non-profit partners, the programme will focus on building AI fluency, developing AI technical skills, supporting AI business transformation and promoting safe and responsible AI development and use including the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI.”
Microsoft will also employ AI safety and security measures across its own infrastructure.
“As business and the public sector embrace the AI opportunity, we are building the infrastructure that will support the growth they need, training the people who can deliver it responsibly and securing our society against emergent threats,” said Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK.