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Cisco pledges $100 million to UK digital innovation

Cloud Money

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has announced a $100 million pledge to help accelerate digital innovation, buddying the firm up to Downing Street and the governments Industrial Strategy.

Several individual initiatives will feature as part of the pledge, with the first to be an artificial intelligence research centre in partnership with University College London, focused on addressing challenges in the development of the industry, as well as fostering the relevant skills in the UK workforce.

“Technology is permeating everything we do, not only opening up new markets, but creating more opportunities for individuals, businesses, and countries,” said Robbins.

“Cisco is committed to driving innovation in the UK and to our continued partnership with the UK government through our Country Digital Acceleration programme. We believe that the UK’s expertise in AI and its commitment to making sure future innovators have the right digital skills will help ensure the nation’s citizens are well-positioned to capture the opportunity ahead.”

AI is fast becoming the most popular buzzword for 2018, and considering the glorious promises, it is far from surprising governments are hanging onto the coat-tails of the tech giants. While the UK is continuing to slip behind leaders in the digital economy, the hope is a dominant position in the AI field will reverse these fortunes. The government estimates AI could add £630 billion to the UK economy by 2035, so it is little wonder it is a priority.

The centre, which will be based on the UCL campus in central London, housing between 200-250 people including AI Master students and professors, focusing on healthcare, drug discovery and transport as a few of the areas.

“With the creation of the AI Research Centre, we believe the UK can lead by example in international community, shaping the development and use of AI worldwide, to ensure its potential and benefits are felt by all,” said Tom Keen, Head of Business Development, British Innovation Gateway, at Cisco.

Alongside the AI research centre, Cisco has also announced it also fund work in mobility, addressing key challenges in cyber security and connectivity for autonomous vehicles, clean energy to fuel the digital era and also initiatives to address challenges for the ageing society. The final project aims to address issues of loneliness, social exclusion and pressures on public services.

Looking more specifically at the mobility project, this will kick off with Project Swift in Scotland. Working in partnership with ScotRail, the aim is to place high-speed wifi on trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow in a commercially sustainable model. It’s a bugbear for many commuters throughout the UK, therefore an easy PR win for the firm should it prove to be successful.

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