This success story was first published in NCUB’s in showcasing booklet, International Interactions. Read the booklet in full here.

In September 2021, the Government’s National AI Strategy set out a ten-year plan to make the UK a global AI superpower.

We interact with AI every day, and the technology is evolving all the time, around us. The Government’s Strategy recognises that ‘over the next ten years, the impact of AI on businesses across the UK and the wider world will be profound – and UK universities and start-ups are already leading the world in building the tools for the new economy’. UCL’s and Cisco’s collaboration is an excellent example of this in practise.

In Autumn 2021, NCUB members UCL and Cisco launched a new virtual centre: ‘Cisco x UCL Global Centre of Excellence’ with a vision to unlock Artificial intelligence’s (AI) multi-faceted benefits for both the economy and planet. The collaboration will play a central role in making the UK a global AI superpower and supporting the Britain’s transition to an AI-enabled economy.

Building on a long-standing partnership between the two organisations will further their work combining their world-class expertise in AI in the new centre. The Cisco x UCL Global Centre of Excellence aims to facilitate a number of new ground-breaking research projects to help amplify AI’s transformative potential.

As part of Cisco x UCL Global Centre of Excellence centre, Cisco will provide research funding for UCL academics and researchers, focused on the application of AI, primarily in the fields of collaboration technology, networking and cybersecurity. The new agreement will enable academics doing relevant AI and ML research from across the university to apply for funding from Cisco.

Cisco was a founding partner of the UCL AI Centre, launched in 2019, which has now become a hub for UK innovation, supporting the creation of a number of AI spinout companies and technologies. Cisco are also a partner of UCL’s UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Foundational AI, central to producing PhD graduates capable of leading research breakthroughs in AI.

In the last three years alone, Cisco has supported 18 AI masters scholarships for under-represented groups at UCL. Through an initiative to encourage girls into careers in AI, Cisco and UCL also welcomed 150 sixth-form girls onto a custom AI programme.

Over the next ten years, the impact of AI on businesses across the UK and the wider world will be profound – it will be a key tool in building the new economy. The potential for AI technologies is vast – it has the potential to change the way we work through supporting and enhancing productivity.

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement), said: “This is a fantastic example of a strategic alliance between UCL and a global technology company with a shared ambition to help shape the future of AI in the UK and around the world. This collaboration agreement is likely to generate hugely positive impacts for many industries, including healthcare, education and logistics.”

Ramana Kompella, Distinguished Engineer & Head of Research, Emerging Technologies & Incubation at Cisco, said: “Over the past year, Cisco Research has worked out Centre of Excellence agreements with a number of top universities within the United States and funded several research projects through these agreements. The first university that we considered outside of the US for a Centre of Excellence agreement was UCL, which has the reputation of hosting some of the most eminent faculties in the world. We were impressed by the cutting-edge research happening in AI/ML and have already started to fund projects with more in the future as we systematically explore other areas of interest.”