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Government pumps £300m into tech and innovation for ageing society

Business secretary Greg Clark announces plans to use £300m from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for new technology and research, such as artificial intelligence and genome sequencing

The government will use £300m of its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to help tackle the challenges of an ageing society through technology and innovation.  

Business secretary Greg Clark announced the funding, which aims to support better diagnosis and treatment by using innovative technology such as genome sequencing and artificial intelligence (AI).

The government said it recognises that an ageing population leads to new demands for technologies, products and services, including better telecare products to ensure people can live at home independently for longer.

Most of the £300m funding will go towards data science, with £210m being pumped into a “data to early diagnosis and precision medicine programme”, which aims to improve diagnosis and develop new medical technologies, diagnostic tools and products.

This includes funding into genome sequencing, mapping out the genomes of patients to advance treatment and therapies for a range of diseases.

The government’s already existing 100,000 Genomes Project has now reached the halfway point, and it hopes to complete it by the end of the year. The project also aims to kickstart a UK genomics industry, ensuring the UK emerges as a leader in the field. 

Some £70m will be invested to create regional diagnostic centres of excellence across the country, offering patients “better diagnosis using new technologies, including AI”.

This is part of a drive to make the UK a world leader in digital pathology and radiology, using AI to analyse medical images, which has the potential to diagnose disease more accurately, according to the government.  

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Commenting on the investment, the business secretary said the investment through the Industrial Strategy, will “not only boost innovation and productivity across the UK”, but also change people’s lives for the better.  

“We are investing over £300m into developing the treatments of the future, in new technologies that will revolutionise the way we age and provide everyone with the best possible chance to grow old with dignity in their own home,” he said.

Funding will also go into the “healthy ageing programme”, driving new products and services for the elderly, and an extra £40m will go towards the UK Dementia Research Institute to create a research hub for the development of therapies.

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