An Ecosystem of Excellence
We welcome the Commission's plans to "build an ecosystem of excellence that can support the development and uptake of AI across the EU economy and public administration". Our developing AI strategy's work strands to achieve this mirror those listed in the White Paper.
Scotland is a world leader in AI research and innovation. The University of Edinburgh is ranked first in the UK for computer science and informatics research. Universities, companies and others in and around Edinburgh attract research income from within the UK at almost four times the national average. The city region is home to unicorn technology companies as well as 400 start-up companies and a National Robotics facility enabled through the Data Driven Innovation Initiative. The Scottish Government funds the Data Lab, Scotland's Innovation Centre for data and AI to build upon these strong foundations and help realise the economic benefits of AI across Scotland.
Scotland is a strong partner in research and innovation collaborations with the EU. We have consistently argued for close ongoing involvement in EU research and innovation programmes, including the current Horizon programme and successor programmes. By April 2020, Scottish organisations had won over €50 million under the Industrial Leadership Pillar in Horizon 2020 for Information and Communication Technologies, the strongest topic for Scotland under this pillar. We will take appropriate measures to ensure a continuing flow of ideas, researchers and students between Scotland and the EU. We have already committed to extending free tuition fees for EU students commencing a course in 2020-21 at a Scottish university or college.
"Developing the skills necessary to work in AI and upskilling the workforce" will be a priority both for the revised EU Coordinated Plan and for our strategy. We are committed to providing opportunities for all to power our economy, and therefore wholeheartedly agree that "particular efforts should be undertaken to increase the number of women trained and employed in this area." We would be keen to exchange ideas and lessons learned with the Commission and member states on the most effective ways to achieve those aims, as well as drive the adoption of AI and measure its impact including in SMEs and the public sector. The Scottish Government has developed new ways for public sector organisations to solve policy challenges in collaboration with innovative technology businesses, such as CivTech. We are leveraging and refining those approaches in our response to the COVID-19 crisis.