British AI pioneers share £1 million in prizes as government unveils inaugural Manchester Prize finalists

Viscount Camrose

Ten teams across the country have been chosen as finalists of the inaugural Manchester Prize, a prestigious challenge prize rewarding breakthroughs in AI for public good.

Announced by the Prime Minister as the AI Seoul Summit gets underway today, the finalists will each receive a share of £1 million to develop their solutions over the next eight months.

Focusing on energy, environment, and infrastructure in its inaugural year, teams in the running for the final £1 million prize are working on breakthroughs in artificial intelligence which could help address food security, improve how solar energy flows into the electricity grid, and revolutionise battery manufacturing.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “With over 50,000 people already employed in the sector and billions expected to be generated for the UK economy over the next few years, the potential of AI innovation to help power our growth is huge.

“That’s why this funding is one of the best investments we can make.”

Viscount Camrose, (pictured) Minister for AI and Intellectual Property said: “This prize puts brilliant British AI innovation at the heart of addressing some of our biggest shared challenges. A decade-long commitment by the government, we are supporting our peerless AI talent with an annual £1 million grand prize to bring through the next wave of game-changing technological solutions.

“I look forward to seeing our finalists develop their solutions further over the coming months, as we look to harness the incredible potential of AI to bring about transformative change in the fields of energy, the environment, and infrastructure.”

Among the finalists of the Manchester Prize are:

Quartz Solar AI Nowcasting by Open Climate Fix: Leveraging AI to forecast cloud formation, enhancing the integration of solar energy into the electricity grid.
CRE.AI.TIVE by Phytoform Labs: Addressing food security challenges through AI-driven discovery of crop traits resilient to climate change.
Greyparrot Insight by Employing AI waste analytics to map global waste flows, driving improvements in recycling and packaging design.
Polaron by Polaron: Revolutionizing battery manufacturing through AI-driven analysis of advanced materials.

In its inaugural year, the Manchester Prize called upon the ingenuity of innovators, academics, entrepreneurs, and disruptors to submit their solutions utilising AI for public benefit. The prize garnered nearly 300 entries from UK-led teams, showcasing a diverse array of groundbreaking ideas.

The finalists will each receive prizes of £100,000 to further develop their projects over the next eight months. Additionally, they will benefit from comprehensive support packages, including funding for computing resources, investor readiness support, and access to a network of experts, positioning them for success in the pursuit of the £1 million grand prize in spring 2025.

The potential of AI-powered innovation to fuel economic growth is immense, with estimates suggesting it could generate £400 billion for the UK economy by 2030. Already, over 50,000 individuals are employed in the AI sector, and with projected market growth exceeding 15% in the next six years, there are vast opportunities for new businesses to thrive and contribute to the nation’s prosperity.

The UK is already seeing the results of how AI can drive investment in its economy, with the recent announcement that British AI company Wayve has received a $1.05 billion investment to develop the next generation of AI-powered self-driving vehicles.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Manchester Prize judge said: “British innovators have been pivotal to the advancement of computer and information technology that has transformed the world we live in. AI has the potential to support productivity, improve delivery of public services, make our national infrastructure work better, and accelerate the transition to a net zero economy. Choosing only ten finalists from such a diverse field of applications was tough; picking a winner will be even harder. I’m looking forward to seeing how the ideas develop in the next few months.”

With AI already starting to unlock enormous opportunities in tackling climate change, transforming healthcare, and beyond, the Manchester Prize looks to spark more cutting-edge innovations in using AI for good, which will deliver real change for people across the country.

The UK is committed to fostering innovation and harnessing the transformative power of AI for the betterment of society. As these projects continue to evolve and make strides towards tangible impacts, they serve as testament to the UK’s position at the forefront of AI innovation on the global stage.

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British AI pioneers share £1 million in prizes as government unveils inaugural Manchester Prize finalists