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New government-backed AI centre of excellence on the cards, Economy Minister confirms

L-R: Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson; mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, Alan Givan; Economy Minister Diane Dodds; and president of Lisburn Chamber of Commerce, Garry MacDonald
Ryan McAleer

A NEW government backed artificial intelligence (AI) centre for excellence is on the cards for the north.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced on Friday that her department is currently examining the potential to fund such a venture.

The DUP Minister made the comments during an address to Lisburn Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

During the breakfast event, Ms Dodds spoke of a new economic strategy, which she said could provide the opportunity to set out what she called ‘a roadmap to economic growth’.

“We have real strengths and can compete on the world stage in areas such as cyber security, AI and advanced manufacturing, materials and engineering,” she said.

“Northern Ireland is currently the top location for US cyber security investments and artificial intelligence is a key emerging technology impacting us.

“We must build on this and that is why I am examining the potential establishment of an AI centre for excellence for Northern Ireland. It is vital we invest in innovation and in research and development.”

Turning to the issue of skills, Ms Dodds added: “We need to ensure we have a skills pipeline to meet current and future skills needs. By doing this we will help people progress up the skills ladder and we will support higher productivity levels. To drive continued growth in our economy, I remain committed to encouraging our local firms to grow in size through a culture of entrepreneurship.”

The Economy Minister added that her department will promote the need to develop ‘competitive economic infrastructure’.

She added: “Physical and digital connectivity is vital to allow Northern Ireland to compete on the global stage. This is why my department is developing new strategies for energy, skills and tourism.”

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