The Science and Technology Facilities Council has announced a £210 million deal with IBM to accelerate discovery and innovation with artificial intelligence and quantum computing. 

Science Minister Amanda Solloway unveiled the five-year partnership which will see the launch of the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation in the North West to support UK businesses and the public sector. 

The aim is to break down practical barriers to innovation such as access to infrastructure or digital skills gaps within organisations in sectors such as materials development, life sciences, environmental sustainability and manufacturing. 

By advancing the pace at which businesses can take advantage of new digital technologies, the collaboration is expected to enhance productivity, create new skilled jobs and boost regional and national economic growth. 

Based in Daresbury, an additional 60 new scientists, interns and students will join IBM Research and the Hartree Centre. 

The research is part of IBM’s global Discovery Accelerator initiative, which seeks to accelerate discovery and innovation based on a convergence of advanced technologies by establishing research centres, fostering and enabling collaborative communities, and advancing skills and economic growth in large-scale programs. 

“Artificial intelligence and quantum computing have the potential to revolutionise everything from the way we travel to the way we shop,” said Solloway. 

“They are exactly the kind of fields I want the UK to be leading in, and this new centre in the North West is a big step towards that.  

“Thanks to this fantastic new partnership with IBM, British businesses will have access to the kind of infrastructure and expertise that will help them boost innovation and grow the economy.” 

The HNCDI programme will support several industry projects to accelerate the adoption of advanced digital technologies with UK companies of various sizes. 

“HNCDI will enable the UK to develop the skills, knowledge and technical capability required to adopt emerging digital technologies, seeding the UK with new ideas and innovative solutions,” said Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC Hartree Centre. 

“The programme has transformative potential to generate long-term GVA for the economy by embedding AI solutions across the UK industry.  

“We are applying knowledge from the UK’s strong fundamental research base to develop tools and techniques that address identified industry and public sector needs, improving economic and societal outcomes.”