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Six-Figure Fund Launched to Champion AI for Good in Scotland

Ross Kelly


AI Market

Nesta hopes to draw applications from the public, private and third sectors for its AI for Good fund. 

A six-figure fund has been launched to explore and support the development and implementation of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) in Scotland.

Nesta in Scotland, the Scottish arm of the UK’s innovation foundation, will provide £100,000 in an effort to ensure that Scotland is at the forefront of ethical AI innovation.

The launch of the fund comes amid an exciting period for AI development in Scotland. Edinburgh boasts the fifth-highest concentration of AI research in any part of the UK. Similarly, the Scottish Government is also exploring ways to establish Scotland as a world leader in AI and data-driven innovation, and recently unveiled an ambitious AI strategy.

Much of the public conversation surrounding AI development has been focused on improvements to efficiency, with benefits flowing largely to the private sector. Nesta hopes the funding will enable deeper exploration of how AI opens up opportunities to improve social outcomes such as preventing crime, reducing loneliness or improving outcomes for young people across the country.

Adam Lang, head of Nesta in Scotland, said the organisation aims to unearth and showcase some of the best AI innovation currently underway in Scotland.

“We want to support and spread the word about great uses of AI in Scotland. So much of the conversation around AI is focused on robots taking our jobs or spying on us, but Scotland has a long history of innovation and inventing things that change the world for good and we want to make sure we can make the most of the tremendous potential of AI,” he said.

“As well as providing grants, we want to celebrate the best of Scottish innovation, as well as sharing 20 years of Nesta’s knowledge about innovation to help the winners to grow and support AI for Good.”

The Nesta fund is open for applications until 10th January 2020, with entries welcome from students, startups, SMEs and academics – as well as public, private and third sector bodies.

Nesta said it hopes to attract applications from a “wide range of areas” including health, wellbeing, poverty, homelessness, inequality, education, creative industries, climate action and manufacturing.

Winning entries will be given a grant of £15,000-£20,000, as well as a programme of support and engagement from Nesta in Scotland.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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