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Universities team up for Greater Manchester AI Foundry

Four North West universities have joined forces to deliver a new initiative that will see specialist researchers work with SMEs to advance their business with Artificial Intelligence.

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The £6 million Greater Manchester AI Foundry will support a minimum of 170 SMEs in the city region to develop new products and services by applying AI to their business.

The initiative is being led by Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with the University of Manchester, the University of Salford and Lancaster University. It builds on the success of the Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry, which was launched by the four institutions in 2019.

The AI Foundry will work with SMEs across four themes:

  • Advanced materials and manufacturing
  • Clean Growth
  • Digital and creative media
  • Health innovation.

The first phase of the project will focus on business development with SMEs who have high potential for business growth through the application of AI.

Professor Keith Miller, Principal Investigator for AI Foundry at Manchester Metropolitan, explained:

“From disease detection using deep learning, to autonomous vehicle technology using machine learning and computer vision – AI has the capability of creating new products and services which will greatly benefit society and help businesses advance, remain competitive and in turn boost the local economy.

“We believe the Greater Manchester AI Foundry will help place the region’s SMEs at the forefront of AI application, nationally and internationally.”

The project was welcomed by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, who said it would be “integral” to helping SMEs build back better from COVID-19:

“In Greater Manchester it is our ambition to be recognised as a world-leading digital city region. The launch of the Greater Manchester AI Foundry is a significant step towards these ambitions, helping our city region’s start ups and SMEs advance their businesses at a time when they need it most.”

Manufacturers can also access support with AI and other cutting-edge Industry 4.0 solutions through the Made Smarter programme, which has supported almost 1,000 businesses to date.  

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