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Microsoft to invest £2.5bn in UK to boost AI plans

Microsoft has committed to invest £2.5bn in the UK over the next three years (Niall Carson/PA)
Microsoft has committed to invest £2.5bn in the UK over the next three years (Niall Carson/PA)

Microsoft has unveiled plans to invest £2.5 billion over the next three years to expand datacentres for artificial intelligence (AI) across the UK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the move as “a turning point for the future of AI infrastructure and development in the UK”.

The tech giant said it is committing to more than double the footprint of its UK datacentres.

This will involve bringing more than 20,000 advanced graphics processing units (GPUs), which are used for machine learning and the development of AI models, to the UK by 2026.

Microsoft said it plans to expand sites in London and Cardiff, and is also looking at a “potential expansion into northern England”.

The US firm said the investment will help with training “more than one million people for the AI economy”, while it also pledged to support AI safety and research efforts alongside the Government and universities.

Microsoft vice chairman and president Brad Smith said: “Microsoft is committed as a company to ensuring that the UK as a country has world-leading AI infrastructure, easy access to the skills people need, and broad protections for safety and security.”

Mr Sunak said: “The UK started the global conversation on AI earlier this month, and Microsoft’s historic investment is further evidence of the leading role we continue to play in expanding the frontiers of AI to harness its economic and scientific benefits.”

Microsoft UK chief executive officer Clare Barclay said: “The pace of change in AI demands action today to build a prosperous future for the UK tomorrow.

“Today marks the single largest investment in our more than 40-year history in the UK.”

It comes months after Microsoft criticised UK regulators and lobbied the Government earlier this year after its proposed deal to buy computer games giant Activision Blizzard was blocked.

However, the Competition and Markets Authority later approved the the case after Microsoft came back with changes.