The Alan Turing Institute was awarded £38.8 million over five years in 2018 through UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund. AI for science and government (ASG) is delivered in partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and in collaboration with a number of other research councils.

The biggest challenges that our societies face – from the COVID-19 pandemic to social and economic instability, overpopulation, and the climate emergency – involve complex interconnections between environmental, healthcare, social, economic, political and engineering systems. Addressing these grand challenges therefore requires both deep disciplinary expertise and ways to convene and combine expertise from different disciplines, strongly connected to problem owners.

Traditionally, this has been a substantial challenge. However, by providing the tools and methods to handle, combine and model large, disparate datasets, modern data science and AI tools have the potential to transform this process, with myriad benefits to society. The vision of ASG is to demonstrate – via a diverse range of activities organised and presented as an integrated whole – how AI and data science can be used to effectively address significant societal challenges and transform health, science, engineering, and government.

Themes, projects, events and associated programmes can be explored below.

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New research initiatives

In consultation with the programme’s External Advisory Board, the Management Board agreed in July 2020 to fund several new and strategic research initiatives to build on research outcomes from the first two years of the ASG programme and address important issues for the UK government and public sector made more urgent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below provides a description of the new research initiatives and will be further detailed as the projects associated with them progress. 


Measuring the impact of policy interventions related to COVID-19 and building resilience against future shocks.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how vulnerable societies and governments are to shocks. This sensitivity is largely due to the propensity to design policy for narrow siloes relating to sectors and government departments, without adequate consideration of the interdependencies between them or proper appreciation of the interconnected nature of local and global societies. It has become evident that resilience in one policy area (e.g. health) can come at the cost of resilience in another (e.g. the economy). The overall aim of this research is to develop a better understanding of resilience in interconnected health, social, and economic systems and to use this understanding to identify robust policy measures.

Find out more about shocks and resilience


Digital twins are now well established in a number of domains and are increasingly being linked into ‘ecosystems of digital twins’ (EDTs), but foundational challenges remain. We seek to develop new methods, tools and underpinning foundations to build well-defined EDTs which are spread across spatial and temporal scales, addressing specific use cases in engineering, health, commerce, economics, urban infrastructure and community modelling, as identified by relevant commercial and government stakeholders.

Find about more about ecosystems of digital twins


Environmental models: Bridging the spatial scales, from surface sensors to satellite sensors.

Satellite sensors can now provide an amazing level of detail of the Earth surface, yet with sparse and imperfect ground-truth sensors to validate them, and due to their relatively short record (a few decades) their usefulness when used on their own is somewhat limited. To make new leaps in understanding environmental change and to improve prediction we must find intelligent ways to combine satellite data with surface sensors and the output from physics-based environmental simulators (e.g., climate models). To bridge these spatial scales and various modalities we are creating a team of scientists and engineers to build and deploy toolkits driven by real-world case studies. This effort will create the foundations for building UK research capacity in developing Digital Twins of the natural environment.

The impact of climate change on agriculture.

Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change, with important socio-economic implications for food sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions. We can begin to model this by bringing together data from plant science, hydrology, soil science, insect population dynamics, economics, consumer behaviour and climate models. In this way we will contribute to the sustained development of a national crop modelling platform which will continue to develop at scale beyond the duration of this particular project.

Find out more about environment and sustainability

AI for science

This theme is aligned with the data science for science and humanities programme.

Researchers at The Alan Turing Institute, Science Technology Facilities Council and their collaborators, have access to the PEARL computing service for research falling under this theme. Click here for more information.

Explore our other activities

Design choices for productive, secure, data-intensive research at scale in the cloud

We present a policy and process framework for secure environments for productive data science...

Arenas, Diego & Atkins, Jon & Austin, Clare & Beavan, David & Cabrejas Egea, Alvaro & Carlysle-Davies, Stephen & Carter, Ian & Clarke, Rob & Cunningham, James & Doel, Tom & Forrest, Oliver & Gabasova, Evelina & Geddes, James & Hetherington, James & Jersakova, Radka & Kiraly, Franz & Lawrence, Catherine & Manser, Jules & O'Reilly, Martin & Whitaker, Kirstie. (2019). Design choices for productive, secure, data-intensive research at scale in the cloud. arXiv:1908.08737 [cs.CR]

CogX 2020

Monday 08 Jun 2020 - Wednesday 10 Jun 2020
Time: 09:00 - 17:30


The ASG programme is governed by its Management Board which includes its Theme Leads as members as well as representatives from EPSRC, Delivery Partner of the investment, and independent members from the Turing’s University Partner Network. In April 2021, two new leadership roles within ASG were appointed on an initial 12 month interim basis: Professor Jonathan Rowe as Programme Chair, and Professor Ben MacArthur as Programme Director.

Professor Jonathan Rowe

AI for Science and Government Programme Chair, Programme Director for Data Science for Science, and Turing Fellow

Professor Ben MacArthur

Director of AI for Science and Government, Deputy Programme Director for Health and Medical Sciences, and Turing Fellow

Allaine Cerwonka

Director of International and Associate Director, AI for Science & Government Programme (ASG)

Professor Yang Hao

Dean for Research, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Queen Mary University of London

The ASG programme also has an External Advisory Board which offers strategic advice to the Management Board. Members were invited based on their independence from the ASG programme and their range of scientific, industry and government expertise. The Chair of the External Advisory Board is Dame Wendy Hall and Deputy Chair is Professor Tom Rodden.