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Priya Lakhani among experts appointed to develop Silicon Valleys in UK


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British Indian Priya Lakhani OBE is among the five industry experts appointed by the government to accelerate development and deployment of emerging technologies in the UK.

A member of the AI Council, Lakhani has been appointed to support work to harness new digital technology such as artificial intelligence, a statement said on Sunday (18).

Matt Clifford, chair of the new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), Sir John Bell, board member of Genomics England, Camilla Fleetcroft, Eclevar UK’s vice-president of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs and Jane Toogood, chief executive of Catalyst Technologies at Johnson Matthey are the other experts appointed by the minister.

They will support government chief scientific adviser and national technology adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance by working hand-in-hand with industry to identify any barriers to innovation and getting emerging technologies to market, the statement added.

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Lakhani is the Founder CEO of CENTURY Tech, an artificial intelligence education technology company that develops AI-powered learning tools for schools, colleges, universities and employers across the world.

In 2008, she left her career as a barrister to launch a fresh cooking-sauce business, which through its charitable foundation provided millions of meals and thousands of vaccinations to the underprivileged in India and Africa, and funded several schools.

Lakhani was awarded Business Entrepreneur of the Year by the Chancellor in 2009 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2014. She was a business advisor to the UK’s coalition government, was appointed to the UK government’s AI Council in 2019.

Fleetcroft will work on cultivating the life sciences sector and help drive the next generation of discoveries, such as delivering genomics-enabled clinical trials.

Toogood will take forward work on building green industries like hydrogen and battery development in the UK.

The chancellor and business secretary have laid out plans for growth across 2023 in five high potential sectors – digital technology, green industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and the creative industries.

The plan is to use the UK’s regulatory freedom outside the EU to pursue the vision to create the 21st century’s Silicon Valleys in the UK.

Sir Patrick will review existing rules and help develop a pro-innovation regulatory approach that allows the UK to fulfil its ambition to become a science superpower and world leader in key growth sectors such as digital technology and life sciences.

Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “We have already set out how we will back our formidable financial services sector to unlock private investment in new industries, and we will show the same ambition in other high-growth sectors to ensure that future Silicon Valleys are based here in the UK.

“The countries that secure leadership in new technologies will lead the world, enjoying unparalleled growth, security and prosperity for decades to come – and it is our job to ensure the UK is able to fully reap the rewards.

“Sir Patrick and his team will be critical as we harness every tool at our disposal to create the industries and jobs of the future, which will deliver long-lasting benefits for local communities across the UK.”

The government wants to establish the UK as the best regulated economy in the world in key growth sectors, ensuring that industry and investors have the certainty then need to drive innovation, investment and growth through anticipating new developments in emerging technologies.


Business secretary Grant Shapps, said: “Economic growth and raising productivity is critical if we are to improve the standards of living for all Brits. One of the most sure-fire ways to deliver both is betting big on innovation, which is exactly what we intend to do.

“Backed by this fierce new team of advisers, Sir Patrick will lead the charge alongside industry to supercharge growth in some of the world’s most exciting growing technologies, turning the UK’s natural strengths into pillars for long-term growth.”

The chancellor has already set out plans to repeal and replace hundreds of pages of burdensome EU retained laws through the ‘Edinburgh Reforms’, which will establish a less costly and more responsive regulatory framework for the financial services sector.

This includes a commitment to make substantial legislative progress in 2023 on repealing and replacing EU-era Solvency II, the rules governing insurers balance sheets which is expected to unlock over £100 billion of private investment for productive assets such as UK infrastructure, the statement said.


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