The University of Liverpool is to lead a £12m research hub to develop state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Chemistry and accelerate its adoption, thanks to a combined investment from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and consortium partners.
Liverpool will share the leadership role with Imperial College London as part of a UK-wide consortium that also includes Queen’s University Belfast, UCL and the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton and Strathclyde alongside at least 15 industry partners.
The AI for Chemistry Hub, AlChemy, will bring together leading academic researchers, industry, and other stakeholders to promote a collaborative community, offer training, and create new approaches at the rapidly evolving AI-chemistry interface to position the UK as the global leader in Digital Chemistry.
AI tools such as machine learning, automation, and robotics have the potential to support faster chemistry discoveries to address key societal needs, but this requires the coordinated engagement of leaders in both AI and chemistry to stay at the forefront of innovation in this field.
AIChemy will ensure that the chemical sciences community is able to exploit the AI revolution so that researchers can provide solutions to global challenges such as net zero emissions and global health.
Professor Andy Cooper, from the University of Liverpool’s Department of Chemistry and Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) and Professor Kim Jelfs from the Department of Chemistry and the Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication (DigiFAB) at Imperial College London are co-leading the unique consortium.
Professor Cooper said: “This is the UK’s first academic-industrial institute of its kind dedicated to supporting collaboration between chemistry and AI researchers. There is huge scope for chemistry researchers to work more effectively with AI researchers, and this new hub will bring together two separate disciplines to build a new cohesive UK research community.”
Professor Jelfs added: “AI has the potential to transform chemistry and this new cross-disciplinary research hub aims to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of the AI chemistry revolution.”
AIChemy will draw on world-leading specialist facilities and research institutes where cross-discipline working already exists including the MIF at Liverpool and DigiFAB and I-X at Imperial College London.
Together, the world-leading hub will transform the UK landscape for the discipline of chemistry, transforming engagement with AI from a relatively niche activity to a core, platform methodology.
AIChemy is one of nine hubs funded through an investment of £80 million announced today by EPSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).