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UK government signs AI, science and innovation deals with Canada

The agreements will see the two countries collaborate on AI compute – a development component of artificial intelligence – and work together on technology innovations such as quantum and semiconductors

The UK has signed two collaboration agreements with Canada, which will see the countries work together on technology research and innovation.

One of the deals, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on compute, will focus on joining efforts to look at artificial intelligence (AI) research and development (R&D) – in particular, AI compute, which is an essential component in the development of AI.

The deal covers four areas of collaboration, including access to AI computing capacity, sustainability in compute infrastructure, collaborative AI research projects and the development of AI talent.

The second deal between the UK and Canada aims to strengthen their existing partnership on science and innovation. The agreement will see the countries collaborating on several key technologies, including quantum, semiconductors, clean energy technology and engineering biology. The deal includes working together on scientific diplomacy and exchanging knowledge on standards, governance and technology regulations internationally.

The original collaboration agreement between the UK and Canada was signed in 2017, and in the past three years (2020-2023), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) awarded £350m to collaborative programmes between the two countries, including the first industry-led partnership to develop quantum technologies.

The agreements were signed during UK science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan’s three-day visit to Canada at the end of January 2024. Donelan said the “unique partnership with Canada across science, innovation and technology is built on a shared desire to be an active force for good on the global stage”.

She added that the deals “deepened” the relationship between the two countries “as we commit to working side-by-side to address the defining technological challenges of our generation”.

“My visit this week and the foundations we have laid will ensure we can continue to lead the way in harnessing the opportunities of innovations across science and technology for decades to come,” she said.

The UK government hopes the renewed collaboration deal will redouble efforts to work with Canada on advanced R&D, develop closer ties on “commercialising innovation”, and make it easier to support the adoption of emerging technologies and bring commercial solutions to market.

The countries will also have biennial meetings of their joint science and technology cooperation committee, which will identify which areas to prioritise.

Commenting on the deals, Canadian minister for innovation, science and industry François-Phillipe Champagne said Canada and the UK have a deep relationship that encourages collaboration to help both countries thrive.

“Today’s Memorandums of Understanding on scientific research, innovation and AI compute will drive positive impacts across all fields of research and innovation, help businesses accelerate commercialisation, and link our leading researchers together,” he said.

“These agreements will strengthen our AI companies and enable our researchers, as well as encourage sharing research excellence with the Global South to build international capacity and address worldwide challenges.”

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