Microsoft is poised to make a historic $3.2-billion investment in the United Kingdom, representing the company’s most substantial commitment to the region since establishing its presence 40 years ago. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s vice chair and president, outlined the investment in a blog post, highlighting the company’s focus on artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure and training.
The substantial investment aims to address the growing demand for efficient, scalable, and sustainable AI-specific computing power. As part of this initiative, U.K. researchers and businesses will receive prioritized access to Microsoft’s Accelerating Foundation Models Research program. Smith emphasized the investment’s goal to meet the needs of both the private and public sectors, enabling them to leverage the latest breakthroughs in cloud and AI technologies.
In addition to the infrastructure investment, Microsoft plans to allocate multimillion-dollar funding to train one million individuals in AI skills. This includes providing initial training for unskilled workers seeking entry into the AI field. The comprehensive program will focus on building AI fluency, developing technical skills, supporting AI-driven business transformation, and promoting the responsible development and use of AI.
Prospective trainers will undergo Microsoft’s “Responsible Generative AI” training to ensure adherence to ethical principles in AI development. The training program will introduce the first Professional Certificate on Generative AI and offer subsequent advanced training for industry professionals.
The announcement was met with enthusiasm in the U.K., with Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, celebrating the country’s leadership in artificial intelligence within Europe. Hunt characterized Microsoft’s investment as a “vote of confidence” in the U.K.’s status as a science superpower and tech hub, boasting an ecosystem worth more than that of Germany and France combined. This investment is expected to further propel the U.K.’s advancements in AI, contributing to its position as a leader in the field.