Microsoft’s new London AI hub is another "huge vote of confidence" for the UK tech sector

Logo and branding of Microsoft, which has deprecated Windows RSA keys, pictured outside the Microsoft booth on day 2 of the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2019 on February 26, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft’s decision to launch a new AI hub in London represents a major vote of confidence in the UK’s technology sector, according to industry stakeholders.

The tech giant has announced plans for a new AI research hub located in the Paddington area, with the facility dedicated to advancing the development of large language models (LLMs), supporting infrastructure, and tooling for foundation models.

Staff will work closely with AI teams across Microsoft and with its partners, including OpenAI, the company revealed.

Mustafa Suleyman, EVP and CEO of Microsoft AI, said the tech giant will begin actively recruiting for positions at the new hub over the coming months.

"There is an enormous pool of AI talent and expertise in the UK, and Microsoft AI plans to make a significant, long-term investment in the region as we begin hiring the best AI scientists and engineers into this new AI hub," he said.

"We’re looking for new team members who are driven by impact at scale, and who are passionate innovators eager to contribute to a team culture where continuous learning is the norm."

The new hub will be led by Jordan Hoffmann, previously of Inflection and DeepMind.

Russ Shaw CBE, founder of Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates, said the launch of the new AI hub is “another feather in the cap of the capital’s burgeoning tech ecosystem” and highlights the country’s growing appeal as a global AI hub.

“This latest Microsoft AI hub in London should be seen as a huge vote of confidence for the UK from one of the global tech industry’s major players," he said. 

"It is the latest of several examples of Microsoft demonstrating its commitment to delivering high quality jobs here, with £2.5 billion recently announced to upskill the company’s UK workforce. 

"Taken together, it is clear to see the high regard in which the UK’s research capabilities and talent pool are held by the companies driving the technological developments which will define the economies of tomorrow.”

Microsoft’s London AI hub builds on strong foundations

Microsoft already has a strong presence in the UK's AI sector, including at the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab, which carries out research in the areas of AI, cloud, and productivity. 

The launch of the new AI hub follows a series of initiatives from Microsoft in the UK, including the recent announcement of a £2.5 billion investment to expand its AI data center infrastructure in the UK.

It also pledged to bring more than 20,000 of the most advanced GPUs to the UK by 2026, extending its Accelerating Foundation Models Research (AFMR) program to give priority access to the UK’s science and research community.

The tech giant has also promised a multi-million-pound investment to train a million people in AI skills.

Microsoft has been pushing for the government to develop a broader legal and regulatory framework for AI, and Suleyman said the decision to open the new hub has been influenced by the UK government's approach to AI safety.

"This is great news for Microsoft AI and for the UK. As a British citizen, born and raised in London, I’m proud to have co-founded and built a cutting-edge AI business here,” he said.

“I know – through my close work with thought leaders in the UK government, business community and academia – that the country is committed to advancing AI responsibly and with a safety-first commitment to drive investment, innovation and economic growth," says Suleyman.

"I’m deeply aware of the extraordinary talent pool and AI ecosystem in the UK, and I’m excited to make this commitment to the UK on behalf of Microsoft AI."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.