Schmidt Futures selects Imperial for $148M initiative to accelerate AI research


Conceptual image of a futuristic head

Imperial College London and eight leading universities across the world will launch the next frontier of scientific discovery through AI.

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a programme of Schmidt Futures, aims to accelerate the next scientific revolution by applying AI to research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It will drive breakthroughs across a range of scientific fields – from using AI to support the proof of new mathematical theorems, to automatic chemists, to helping produce and store energy more efficiently. 

The initiative will fund up to twenty fellows at Imperial each year for up to six years, supporting them to learn and apply AI methods to their research.  

University of the future

The Fellowship will be embedded in one of Imperial’s flagship Academic Strategy projects, I-X. Based at Imperial’s White City Campus, I-X aims to develop novel approaches for research, teaching and innovation by harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and digital technologies.

We are grateful for the generosity of Schmidt Futures and look forward to the difference the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs will make, using AI in innovative ways to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. Professor Mary Ryan Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise)

It serves as a blueprint for the university of the future that is unencumbered by institutional and thematic silos, seeks deep and impactful collaborations with industry and government, and delivers innovative cross-cutting teaching programmes about and with digital technologies. 

New methods in advanced computing and AI are increasingly contributing to revolutionary tools in scientific research and discovery. However, the current adoption of AI in scientific and engineering research is slow, unevenly distributed, and inconsistent.

The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship aims to increase the shared knowledge and application of AI in STEM fields to shift the way that researchers consider questions and solve problems, improving analysis and increasing automation, thus broadening the scope and accelerating the speed of research.  

The Fellowship will be led by Professor Nick Jones, Professor of Mathematical Sciences and co-director of I-X.  

"Seismic impact"

Professor Eric Yeatman, Chair of the I-X Board, said: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform not just one sector, but to have a seismic impact on all aspects of our lives. Imperial is at the forefront of this revolution, and through I-X we are reimagining what scientific discovery looks like in the digital age. The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship perfectly aligns with our vision, providing access to AI tools and training to the sharpest minds on the frontlines of scientific innovation, and we are thrilled to be joining the programme.”   

Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) said: “Imperial convenes the brightest minds who work across disciplines and traditional siloes. Our researchers and students are pushing the frontiers of knowledge to solve the problems of today and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. One way they can propel their discoveries is by harnessing the power of AI.  

“We are grateful for the generosity of Schmidt Futures and look forward to the difference the Schmidt AI in Science Postdocs will make, using AI in innovative ways to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.” 

Inaugural cohort

In its inaugural year, the global initiative is supporting universities across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, with plans to expand to additional countries in the future. The inaugural cohort of universities are: 

  • Imperial College London 
  • The University of Toronto 
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 
  • National University of Singapore 
  • University of Oxford 
  • Cornell University (US) 
  • University of California San Diego 
  • University of Chicago 
  • University of Michigan 
The entrance to a large, glass-fronted building
The Translation & Innovation Hub (I-HUB) at Imperial's White City Campus

The next global scientific revolution

Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures said: “Scientific innovation today is too often defined by new use cases for existing technologies or refining previous advancements, rather than the creation of entirely new fields of discovery. This is why we need to accelerate the next global scientific revolution – by supporting broad and deep incorporation of AI techniques into scientific and engineering research.” 

Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and president of The Schmidt Family Foundation: “AI is already revolutionary---but it is not yet as accessible, equitable or interdisciplinary as it needs to be. By supporting postdoctoral candidates around the world in fields beyond computer science, we hope to create a community that can develop and improve this technology and find novel ways to apply it in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems.” 

Stuart Feldman, Chief Scientist of Schmidt Futures said: “The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, a program of Schmidt Futures, will create an immediate acceleration of AI applications across several disciplines.” 

“The Fellowship will provide these postdoctoral fellows with the advanced tools to increase the scope and speed of their research while discovering new and innovative use cases for AI within their field and create an ecosystem of scientific networks that will support them and their work.”  

To find out more about the roles available, visit Imperial's job page


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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