AI is a crucial technology of our time, a transformative general-purpose technology, and will be crucial to our economy and security. The UK Government needs to act to strengthen our economy and security, reduce our dependence and vulnerability, and set us up for success. However, the AI supply chain is mind-bogglingly complex, specialised, and expensive. We have to choose where to invest. On AI industrial strategy, we must be careful with our investments and play to our strengths.
The UK Government should lay out a plan for founding, and over the next parliament ramping up investment in, two new publicly owned companies:
- Great British Cloud to £1-10 billion, and
- BritGPT to up to £1 billion.
This would build on the commitments of £900m for supercomputing and £100m for foundation models made since the 2023 Budget. These are welcome steps, but they won’t go far enough to make much of a difference. We need to 10x those commitments.
These two new publicly owned companies should be focussed on increasing our security, reducing our dependence, and addressing market failures. These are large sums. UK government investments in AI therefore need to be targeted. We can’t compete in chip production, but we can and should play to our strengths, and invest in cloud compute and foundation models.
This short report (1) provides an overview of the AI supply chain, (2) demonstrates the necessity for prioritisation, (3) proposes Great British Cloud, (4) proposes BritGPT, and (5) links these proposals to Labour’s £28 billion annual Climate Investment Pledge.