30th November 2023 – (London) Microsoft has revealed plans to inject £2.5 billion (US$3.2 billion) into the United Kingdom over the next three years, marking its largest-ever investment in the country. The move is set to bolster the country’s future growth in artificial intelligence (AI), according to the U.K. government.
With the UK economy projected to face sluggishness in the coming years, the government is actively seeking private investments to support the development of new infrastructure, particularly in burgeoning sectors like AI.
The funding, initially announced during a summit led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday, will more than double Microsoft’s data centre capacity in the U.K., providing essential infrastructure to facilitate the operation of new AI models.
In a statement released on Thursday, Sunak described the announcement as a significant milestone for the future of AI infrastructure and development in the U.K.
Interestingly, Microsoft’s decision to make this substantial investment comes despite remarks made by its president, Brad Smith, in April. At the time, Smith expressed concerns about a decision by the U.K.’s antitrust regulator that had gone against Microsoft, which had cast doubt on the tech industry’s confidence in Britain.
However, since then, the U.K. regulator has approved a restructured version of Microsoft’s US$69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which has helped restore Britain’s favorability in the eyes of Microsoft.
Smith emphasized Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring that the UK possesses world-leading AI infrastructure, stating this during a statement released while he hosted the UK’s finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, at a data centre site under construction in north London.
As part of the investment deal, Microsoft plans to bring over 20,000 state-of-the-art Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to the UK. This technology plays a vital role in machine learning and AI development, as highlighted in the government’s statement.