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Government provides funding to help innovators navigate regs

AI and Digital Hub, backed by almost £2m in funding, will coordinate regulatory advice across CMA, FCA, ICO and Ofcom

The Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSIT) has introduced a pilot scheme called the  AI and Digital Hub, which links up AI and digital innovators and regulators.

Backed by almost £2m in government funding, the government hopes to use the initiative to provide AI and digital innovators with access to informal advice to help them comply with different regulatory regimes. Regulatory advice is being provided from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and Ofcom via the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF).

The government said the DRCF AI and Digital Hub is geared towards making it easier for businesses to get the help they need, bringing together the four main regulators involved in the oversight of AI. It hopes the hub will play an important role in supporting businesses to navigate regulations, so they can spend more time developing new products.

Running for 12 months, the hub also offers regulators the opportunity to gain first-hand insights and feedback from innovators, helping them to refine their regulatory regimes for AI models which will strengthen the UK’s overall regulatory approach. In the long term, the pilot scheme’s findings could also help to inform new guidance from regulators.

Secretary of state for Science, Innovation, and Technology, Michelle Donelan, said: “AI innovations are already transforming how we tackle and diagnose diseases like cancer, improving our public services, and ramping up productivity. It is the defining technology of our generation. 

“Through the AI and Digital Hub, we can bring groundbreaking innovators together with our expert regulators to streamline the process of harnessing the technology’s incredible potential.”

Last Autumn, DRCF published research looking at a multi-regulator, pro-innovation collaboration to support AI and digital innovators. The authors of the study found that the people who took part needed to coordinate across multiple bodies when faced with cross-regulator challenges. The research participants also reported challenges navigating current services across regulators, where they are unclear where to seek support for complex matters.

Among the key takeaways from the study is that through AI and Digital Innovation Hub, the DRCF aim to deliver a service that can offer a clear path for innovators seeking clarity from regulators on cross-regulator challenges.

DRCF CEO Kate Jones said: “The hub is a step-change for the DRCF and a clear example of how collaboration between regulators can deliver tangible benefits to the UK tech sector. The hub will provide regulatory clarity to innovators to help them develop their products and services with confidence. We encourage all innovators to make the most of this one-year pilot and send us your queries – we look forward to working with you.”

Read more about AI regulations

  • Legislation is needed to seize the benefits of artificial intelligence while minimising its risks, says Lord Holmes – but the government’s ‘wait and see’ approach to regulation will fail on both fronts.
  • A guide to help enterprises building and deploying AI systems understand EU AI regulations.

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