Microsoft has pledged £2.5 billion to build critical AI infrastructure in the UK, as part of a series of new foreign investments announced by prime minister Rishi Sunak this week.
The company will fund next-generation AI data centers and thousands of graphic processing units, according to Number 10, with more details to be announced later this week.
Speaking at the Global Investment Summit at Hampton Court Palace, Sunak said that investors have committed a total of £29.5 billion in new UK projects and capital, three times the sum raised at the last Global Investment Summit in 2021.
"Today’s investments, worth more than £29 billion, will create thousands of new jobs and are a huge vote of confidence in the future of the UK economy. Global CEOs are right to back Britain - we are making this the best place in the world to invest and do business," he said.
"Attracting global investment is at the heart of my plan for growing the economy. With new funding pouring into key industries like clean energy, life sciences and advanced technology, inward investment is creating high-quality new jobs and driving growth right across the country."
A number of other investments were also announced, with the largest, £10 billion, coming from Australian infrastructure investor IFM Investors, for large-scale UK infrastructure and energy transition projects to be carried out over the next four years.
"Our presence in the UK continues to grow and we look forward to working closely with the government to drive investment into large-scale infrastructure and energy transition projects across equity and debt funding," says CEO David Neal.
Meanwhile, Dutch company Yondr is investing £1 billion in a new 30MW datacenter in Slough that, it says, will create over 3,500 jobs.
And there's also support for quantum computing, with Oxford Quantum Circuits announcing that it's raising £85 million for R&D projects.
"To solve the world’s most pressing challenges – from climate change to accelerated drug discovery – we need to put quantum computers in the hands of humanity and at the fingertips of our most brilliant minds," says CEO Ilana Wisby.
Meanwhile, Spanish energy company Iberdrola announced £7 billion of funding for offshore wind infrastructure, while portfolio company Gren plans to invest up to £1 billion in district heating and local energy systems.
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Germany's BioNTech Laboratories will invest around £1 billion over 10 years, expanding its research and development activities with a new laboratory in Cambridge and an AI centre of expertise in London.
Clean energy-tech company Aira is investing £300 million into heat pump rollouts, new jobs and upskilling; and Australia's Aware Super has committed more than £5 billion for projects in energy transition, affordable housing, life sciences, innovation, technology and digital infrastructure.
The government is also announcing the creation of three new regulatory sandboxes for hydrogen-powered aviation, autonomous marine vessels and drones, with Innovate UK launching a £110 million Investor Partnership for UK science and tech SMEs.
"The £29.5 billion pledged today is yet another huge vote of confidence in our dynamic, pro-business and highly innovative economy, and proves that our plan for growth is working," claims business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch.
"We have the third highest levels of inward investment in the world at $2.7 trillion, we’re number one in Europe for new investment projects, and last year alone we created 107,000 jobs through inward investment."
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Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.