Microsoft’s $3.2 billion UK investment will fuel AI growth

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Microsoft's $3.2 billion UK investment will fuel AI growth
Microsoft's $3.2 billion UK investment will fuel AI growth

Microsoft’s initiative for the UK government over the next three years will more than double its datacenter footprint in Britain.

The UK government said Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) decision to invest 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) in Britain over the next three years, its single greatest investment in the country to date, will support future growth in artificial intelligence (AI).

Britain, where the economy is expected to slow in the coming years, is asking for private investment to help pay for new infrastructure, particularly in growing industries such as artificial intelligence.

The initiative, which was first revealed on Monday at a summit held by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, will more than double Microsoft’s datacenter footprint in the UK, providing the infrastructure required for new AI models to function. “Today’s announcement marks a watershed moment in the UK’s AI infrastructure and development,” Sunak said on Thursday.

Microsoft’s move comes despite statements made by its president, Brad Smith, in April that a judgment by the country’s antitrust commissioner that favored the US company jeopardized the tech industry’s faith in Britain.

Since then, a restructured version of Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been approved by the UK regulator, placing Britain back in Microsoft’s favor.

“Microsoft is committed as a company to ensuring that the UK as a country has world-leading AI infrastructure,” Smith said as he hosted finance minister Jeremy Hunt at a datacenter being built in north London.

As part of the agreement announced on Thursday, Microsoft will transfer more than 20,000 of the most modern graphics processing units to the UK, a technology critical to machine learning and AI development, according to a government statement.

The investment also includes a training plan to help ensure that Britons have the skills needed to build and work with AI.

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