The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


New £12 million Hub for AI Research Co-Led by CASA Academic

6 February 2024

Adam Dennett, Professor of Urban Analytics at CASA, will co-lead the AI for Collective Intelligence hub that will harness the power of AI to address society’s most pressing challenges.

EPSRC AI for Collective Intelligence Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has today announced an investment of £80 million in nine new hubs to propel the UK to the forefront of advanced AI research. The hubs will provide focused investment that will enable AI to evolve and tackle complex problems across applications from healthcare treatments to power-efficient electronics.

Of the nine hubs, the AI for Collective Intelligence (AI4CI) hub is supported by a £12 million five-year grant. The AI4CI hub will develop new machine learning and smart agent technologies fuelled by real-time data streams to achieve collective intelligence for individuals and national agencies across healthcare, pandemics, cities, finance, and the environment.

The hub brings together leading research groups from seven universities – Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, UCL and Ulster – to form an integrated centre for nationwide activity combining innovative research and development, community and capacity building, career development, public engagement, research translation, policymaking and governance. The hub will be led by Professor Seth Bullock from the University of Bristol. CASA’s Professor Adam Dennett will co-lead the Smart Cities branch of the hub, along with Professor Alison Heppenstall from the University of Glasgow.

The Smart Cities branch of the AI4CI hub will work with industry partners such as Arup and government partners like the Westminster City Council and the Greater London Authority to build collective intelligence around how we might shape our response to pressing global challenges including an equitable urban transition to net-zero in domains such as transportation and housing over the coming decades.

Professor Adam Dennett commented:

The new AI for Collective Intelligence research hub is an extremely exciting long-term opportunity to explore how the rapidly advancing group of computing technologies that fall under the broad banner of artificial intelligence can be used to help solve some of society’s ongoing challenges. With AI methods showing huge promise in helping predict and classify data on behaviours that are crucial to understanding how people go about their daily activities or how cities grow and evolve through labyrinthine planning and construction processes, we hope that we will bring new perspectives on these and other topics over the five-year project."

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, said:

UKRI is supporting researchers and innovators to develop the next generation of AI technologies that will transform our economy and society. The investments announced today will help to deliver the capability the UK needs to realise the opportunities of this transformative technology."

Professor Charlotte Deane, Executive Chair of EPSRC, said:

Artificial intelligence is already transforming our world. EPSRC supports world-leading research to unlock its potential and ensure it is developed and used in an ethical and responsible way. Long-term research funding has led to revolutionary advancements that have made AI a powerful tool for many applications. These hubs will deliver revolutionary AI innovations and tools in sectors from healthcare to energy, smart cities and the environment. They will achieve this by solving key challenges and improving our understanding of AI helping to drive the increased productivity and economic growth promised by this technology."

More information

Image: EPSRC AI for Collective Intelligence Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators. From left to right: Prof Laura Smith (University of Bath), Dr Cangxiong Chen (University of Bath), Prof Seth Bullock (PI – University of Bristol), Prof Hywel Williams (University of Exeter), Prof Maggie Chen (University of Cardiff), Prof Adam Dennett (UCL), Dr John Cartlidge (University of Bristol), Dr Nirav Ajmeri (University of Bristol), Prof Philip Morgan (University of Cardiff), Dr Rob Challen (University of Bristol), Dr Leon Danon (University of Bristol).