Expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) is to be shared with Greater Manchester businesses in a bid to help them develop new products and services, as part of a new £6m project being led by Manchester Metropolitan University.

University researchers with specialist knowledge in AI will work with a minimum of 170 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the area, helping them to advance their business through the application of AI.

The project hopes to help local businesses build back better following the disruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In total, four North West universities: Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Manchester, the University of Salford and Lancaster University, have teamed up to deliver the European Regional Development Funded (ERDF) scheme named the Greater Manchester AI Foundry.

The new project builds on the success of the Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry, which was launched by the four institutions in May 2019.

The Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry has already successfully supported more than 60 SMEs in adopting cyber security innovation within their business.

Knowledge and research from the four universities will now be used to help selected companies embed new AI innovation into their business, helping them to thrive in a new digital age.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “In Greater Manchester it is our ambition to be recognised as a world-leading digital city region, the launch of the Greater Manchester AI Foundry is a significant step towards these ambitions, helping our city-region’s start-ups and SMEs advance their businesses at a time when they need it most.

“Following the success of the Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry it is great to see our world-leading universities working together again to share their specialist knowledge to support our SMEs to thrive. In the current climate, the AI Foundry will be integral in helping our SMEs build back better through the application of AI.”

Keith Miller, Principal Investigator for AI Foundry from Manchester Metropolitan, said: “AI has an incredible power to innovate.

“From disease detection using deep learning, to autonomous vehicle technology using machine learning and computer vision – AI has the capability of creating new products and services which will greatly benefit society and help businesses advance, remain competitive and in turn boost the local economy.

“With that in mind, it has been incredibly exciting to work on this collaboration between the four universities, which aims to translate world-leading AI research into novel products and services.

“We believe the Greater Manchester AI Foundry will help place the region’s SMEs at the forefront of AI application, nationally and internationally.”


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