The UK and Canada have signed a landmark agreement to collaborate on the computing power needed to advance AI research and development.
The new Memorandum of Understanding on compute was signed in Ottawa by UK Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan and Canadian Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry François-Phillippe Champagne. It cements the two countries’ partnership on AI by committing them to explore ways to give researchers and companies affordable access to the high-powered computing capacity required for cutting-edge AI systems.
Compute power and data are essential ingredients for developing modern AI models and applications. As AI rapidly advances, access to state-of-the-art computing infrastructure is increasingly vital for conducting groundbreaking research and staying globally competitive. The UK-Canada agreement recognises this and aims to foster joint innovation by improving compute access.
Specifically, under the new agreement, the UK and Canada will look at opportunities for collaborating on providing compute power for shared research priorities like biomedicine. They also intend to work together – and with like-minded countries – on sustainable models for sharing compute capabilities.
The compute agreement builds on a wider UK-Canada science and technology partnership also renewed during Secretary Donelan’s visit. This partnership identifies quantum computing, AI, semiconductors and clean energy as key areas for increased collaboration between British and Canadian researchers. It also focuses on coordinating scientific diplomacy efforts relating to new technologies.
Academics and researchers from both countries have been actively involved in collaborative programs, with £350 million awarded by UK Research and Innovation between 2020 and 2023. This includes pioneering initiatives like the first industry-led partnership on quantum technologies and a project on arctic ecosystems in collaboration with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
The latest accords reinforce the two countries’ “unique partnership” across science and innovation, said Secretary Donelan. She emphasised their commitment to harnessing emerging technologies as an “active force for good.”
Minister Champagne echoed this, saying the agreements will have “positive impacts across all fields of research and innovation.” He highlighted opportunities to link leading AI researchers in both countries.
The renewal of UK-Canada science ties comes as Secretary Donelan meets with AI experts and companies during a three-day visit. She held discussions on the future of AI with Yoshua Bengio, a pioneer in the field and recipient of the Turing Award, computing’s highest honour.
With a combined $5 trillion economy, the UK and Canada have committed to collaborating closely on technological innovation for the benefit of both countries and the wider world. The compute accord marks an important step toward realising that vision in the critical field of AI.
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