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BEIS to fund five healthcare AI innovation centres

Five healthcare innovation centres will receive a total of £50m in funding to use artificial intelligence to improve diagnosis and treatment of diseases

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced it is funding five new centres of excellence for artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare.

The centres, which are based in Leeds, Glasgow, London, Oxford and Coventry, aim to use AI to find ways of improving and speeding up diagnosis and treatment of diseases, while freeing up more time for doctors to spend with patients.  

Using £50m in funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the AI centres will work to develop personalised treatment for patients through a range of different initiatives.  

The centres, which are mainly based at universities and NHS facilities, are due to be operational sometime next year.  

The Leeds centre, which is formed by the Northern Pathology Imaging Collaborative, will link up nine industry partners, nine NHS trusts and eight universities to drive digital pathology research.

In Glasgow, the Industrial Centre for AI Research in Digital Diagnostics is bringing together clinicians, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and health planners to “answer clinical questions” and solve general challenges in healthcare.

Business secretary Greg Clark said AI has the potential to “revolutionise healthcare and improve lives for the better”.  

“The innovation at these new centres will help diagnose disease earlier to give people more options when it comes to their treatment, and make reporting more efficient, freeing up time for our much-admired NHS staff time to spend on direct patient care”
Greg Clark, BEIS

“The innovation at these new centres will help diagnose disease earlier to give people more options when it comes to their treatment, and make reporting more efficient, freeing up time for our much-admired NHS staff time to spend on direct patient care,” he said.

The London-based Medical Imaging and Artificial Intelligence Centre for Value-Based Healthcare aims to use AI in medical imaging and other clinical data to drive up speed of diagnosis and automate manual reporting, while in Oxford, the National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging will look at the role imaging plays in personalised care and earlier diagnosis.

In Coventry, the Pathology image data Lake for Analytics, Knowledge and Education aims to use pathology data to drive economic growth.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said AI would play a “crucial role in the future of the NHS” and that the country needs to embrace it “by introducing systems which can speed up diagnoses, improve patient outcomes, make every pound go further and give clinicians more time with their patients”.  

“As part of our long-term plan, we will transform the NHS into an ecosystem of enterprise and innovation that allows technology to flourish and evolve,” he said.

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