The UK government has invested almost £16m into companies at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI) research hoping to use the technology to improve patient diagnostics. 

The AI in Health and Care Awards announced their third round of funding at the beginning of March, which saw nine companies awarded investment.

The scheme was launched in 2019 to develop AI technology focused on helping patients with long-term conditions, improving the accuracy of diagnosis, and more recently, improving the waiting times during Covid backlogs.

The AI systems that gained investment this round included ones that could diagnose rare diseases, identify women at high risk of giving premature birth and help detect cancer. 

The UK Government has so far granted 86 AI technologies with £123m and has helped in supporting over 300,000 patients, according to a government press release. 

Mendelian, UK-based digital health company and one of the nine companies awarded investment, says it will be using the money to continue to build software tools to help doctors identify rare disease patients faster and diagnose them earlier.

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“It’s incredibly exciting to win this award, to see the NHS taking bold steps to solving one of the most complex challenges in modern medicine,” Dr Peter Fish, chief executive at Mendelian, told Verdict.“

“This will unlock our journey towards shifting the way healthcare systems improve care for rare disease patients, delivering benefit to the NHS, the doctors who use the tool and, most importantly, everyone of us as health service users.”

Investment in AI has been growing steeply over the decade. Back in 2013, the value of AI deals totaled at around $1bn, five years later in 2018 that number had grown to $83bn.

The value of AI deals fell significantly in 2022 following an extraordinary peak in 2021.

In 2022, $72bn was invested in the AI sector made up of 3,507 deals, representing a decrease from 2021 which saw deals total $127bn, made up of 3,694 deals.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.