Government provides £5m in funding for small business artificial intelligence projects

Government provides £5m in funding for small business artificial intelligence projects
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Mon 16th Oct 2023

The government has provided £5m in funding to feasibility studies for 100 artificial intelligence (AI) projects involving small businesses.

Ideas include using AI tools to manage the power supplies to EV chargepoints, reducing delays on the railways, cutting waste produced by the construction industry, and monitoring the health of dairy cattle.

Kapdaa, was of the businesses awarded funding, is developing AI-powered cloth recycling to reduce the fashion industry's environmental footprint and cut back on the estimated 921,000 tonnes of used textiles disposed of in household waste in the UK each year.

Its technology is used to sort and process textile waste by material, while removing zips and buttons to increase recycling and reduce landfills.

Nishant Parekh, co-founder of Kapdaa, said:

"Our aim is to make the UK self-sufficient for its own textile waste. We are creating a one of a kind AI system completely conceptualised and built in the UK, providing a unique way to reduce landfill.

"Eventually, it will create an entirely new sector and inspire young generations to support sustainability."

The awarding of the £5m comes as the government launches another £32m for research teams and businesses of all sizes working on using AI and machine learning (ML) to improve productivity in transport, construction, agriculture and creative industries.

Around 80 businesses and 20 consortia will be funded. Individual businesses can apply for a grant of up to £100,000, while consortia involving at least three organisations can apply for between £700,000 and £1.2m.

Full details are here with a recording of an online event about the scheme here. The application deadline is 11am on 8 November.

Michelle Donelan, science and technology secretary, said:

"When it is deployed safely and responsibly, AI can and will transform what is possible in the world of work, unlocking gains in productivity and efficiency that could never have been imagined before.

"That is why we are backing 100 small teams with the seed of an idea – from using AI to boost clothing recycling to driving housebuilding – to drive them forward.

"At the same time our £32m competition will support teams of all sizes to kick their ideas on to the next level, further helping us shape how this vital technology of the future can work for us and grow our economy.

"It is also why we are bringing world leaders and tech experts together in just a few weeks' time for the AI Safety Summit, to build cooperation around the risks and opportunities of this incredibly promising technology and how we manage it safely."

This £37m is funded through the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Technology Missions Fund announced in the government's Science and Technology Framework, and delivered by the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme.

The government's major AI Safety Summit is at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire on 1 and 2 November.

Relevant artificial intelligence resources

How small businesses can leverage AI

A small business owner's guide to using AI tools

Webinar: Discover AI tools for your business

Lunch and Learn: Revolutionise your content strategy with ChatGPT

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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