UK government, industry leaders invest billions in research, AI for early disease detection

The UK government and life sciences industry leaders are investing more than £1 billion to support healthcare innovation and research aimed at using AI for early disease detection.

Through the deal, the UK and industry leaders plan to invest a total of £1.3 billion (about $1.6 billion) to ensure the “UK remains in pole position in the treatments of today, while creating the industries and treatments of the future, such as genomics and AI-powered diagnosis,” according to a press release.

The UK government will contribute up to £79 million from its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which will be used to study 5 million healthy people and develop diagnostic tests that use AI to detect diseases earlier. Belgium-based biopharmaceutical company UCB will invest £1 billion to support research and development and the construction of a new state-of-the-art facility. The deal brings together 10 companies.

“I want the UK to have the most advanced health and care system on the planet,” Matt Hancock, UK secretary of state for Health and Social Care, said in a prepared statement. “Technology and artificial intelligence have the potential to revolutionize healthcare by unlocking the next generation of treatments, diagnosing diseases before symptoms appear and helping patients take greater control of their own health.”

Last month, the UK announced plans to open five new centers dedicated to using AI to speed up disease diagnosis and improve patient outcomes. The centers will each have a separate focus and plan to open in 2019.

“AI has the potential to [revolutionize] healthcare and improve lives for the better. That’s why our modern Industrial Strategy puts pioneering technologies at the heart of our plans to build a Britain fit for the future,” Greg Clark, UK secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said of the announcement.