The U.S. and China are leading the world in AI innovation–but the U.K. can punch above its weight. Here’s how

Eight years ago, I moved from Denmark to the U.K. because I believed London was the best city in Europe for founders to start technology companies. I still think that’s true today: We have a thriving academic community, a strong tech talent and investment capital pool, and a government that recognizes the transformative power of AI.

Now more than ever, the U.K. has a real opportunity to be a world leader in the development and adoption of artificial intelligence. The National AI Strategy and the £1 billion AI Sector Deal have been positive signs. However, if we want to remain competitive with the United States and China, the U.K. government must consider updating its industrial strategy to better support British AI startups.

On Apr. 16, I had the pleasure of speaking in front of the U.K. Parliament’s Business and Trade Committee about how industrial policy can be used to build on the U.K.’s strengths and competitive advantages. Here are three key measures I highlighted to the committee that could turbocharge the UK’s AI industry.

Provide affordable access to computing power through GPU credits or cloud resources

Training cutting-edge AI models requires immense processing power in the form of high-performance GPUs. For example, it took 3 million GPU hours for an Nvidia A100 processor to train Meta’s Llama 2 models. Renting the equivalent cloud compute capacity of that would cost about 15 to 20 million dollars today, not to mention the storage and operational costs added on top. These are eye-watering amounts which can be prohibitive for most startups, even those like Synthesia who’ve achieved unicorn status.

The government could offer credits or subsidized rates for U.K. AI companies to access world-class cloud computing resources. However, it’s important to note that this access should not be via new supercomputers or national data centers as no one will use them. Instead, it needs to be made easy for any startup, through existing cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google, or AWS. India, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates are already taking this approach, recognizing the value of access to hardware for their AI ecosystems.

Open up public datasets for research and development

Data is the fuel that powers large AI models. The U.K. has a wealth of public data assets across domains like healthcare, transportation, and climate that could be opened up for startups and researchers to build powerful AI applications that benefit the public good.

Properly anonymized, these datasets are a competitive advantage the U.K. should leverage. For example, the NHS in England has recently faced the worst waiting times on record for cancer patients. There are several promising AI startups developing tools for cancer imaging and diagnostics and computational modelling for drug design and predictive therapies–access to anonymized healthcare data could drastically improve the accuracy of their machine learning models, leading to better resource allocation in hospitals or faster patient diagnosis and care.

Mandate AI adoption across public services to create a market

If the U.K. government committed to adopting AI across domains like healthcare delivery, education or smart city operations, it would create a built-in market and use cases for startups to build innovative solutions. This would spur further investment and create a virtuous cycle of AI growth and public impact.

In the U.S., President Biden ordered all federal agencies to name chief AI officers to oversee the federal government’s development and adoption of AI. The U.K. government could go further and set specific goals and metrics for AI use inside its departments, creating the kind of permanent and consistent demand that would motivate the private and public sectors to collaborate more efficiently. 

To its credit, the U.K. government has taken a balanced and pragmatic approach to AI to date, including proposing regulation focused on addressing real-world risks and encouraging socially beneficial innovation. Rather than preemptively banning certain uses of AI or getting lost in pointless debates around existential risks, the U.K.’s AI regulatory proposals aim to develop guardrails and best practices in areas such as transparency, human oversight, and ethical considerations.

This measured stance that embraces both innovation and responsible development is prudent. It recognizes that AI is too powerful an opportunity to squander with overly blunt restrictions. At the same time, proactive governance is needed to build trust and ensure AI systems remain aligned with our existing laws and ethical values.

Every day, I’m fortunate to speak to business leaders around the world, from small business owners to Fortune 100 executives, who are thinking about deploying AI at scale in their organizations. We all agree that AI will fundamentally transform every industry and sector of the economy, from healthcare and scientific research to transportation, manufacturing, and education. This in turn will fuel economic growth, create new jobs, and improve the standard of living for nations at the forefront of the global AI revolution.

By investing in affordable computing power, opening up data assets, and creating a robust market for AI services, the U.K. can establish itself as a true AI superpower. With balanced regulation and ecosystem support, Britain’s AI startups and entrepreneurs can cement the U.K.’s status as a global leader in this transformative technology.

Victor Riparbelli is the CEO and co-founder of Synthesia.

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The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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