New £7.4m UK AI training fund – applications close 31 May 2024

The Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), has introduced a scheme that aims to increase AI adoption and productivity by spurring greater employer-led investment in the relevant skills. The New £7.4m funding pot (“Flexible AI Upskilling Fund”) to help staff at small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) boost their artificial intelligence (AI) skills.

It has been reported that the lack of AI skills in business is causing a barrier to the adoption of AI and investment is required AI upskilling. The scheme is intended to fund training that will enable employees to develop their understanding of AI and technical skills in relation to AI to enable them to assist their employers in the use of AI within their organisations.

The scheme is being aimed at SMEs in the professional services sector and includes; bookkeeping, accountancy and audit firms together with architectural practices, law firms and management consultancies.

Key Points to Note:

  • The fund will enable SMEs to cover up to 50% of the cost of their employees' AI training.
  • To be eligible for the scheme, DSIT requires interested companies to be registered to operate in the UK, employ between one and 249 UK staff and meet the SME Action Plan's definition of a small or medium-sized enterprise. They must also have an operating track record of at least one year and be able to match-fund 50% of the training costs.
  • Funding areas excluded from the scheme are; payments for business advice or consulting services related to AI, purchasing AI technologies, capital expenditure, salaries and recruitment activity
  • The scheme was inviting expressions of interest to 30 April 2024 via the government's “Find a Grant service” using the following link: "Find a Grant service" link
  • Formal applications will open on 1 May and close at 5pm on 31 May.

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