The UK and France are strengthening their ties in artificial intelligence (AI) and data, with Digital Secretary Matt Hancock visiting Paris today (5 July) to announce a package of measures.

The aim is to boost both countries’ digital economies and forge closer links between cutting-edge companies from both nations.

Hancock will address a landmark bilateral conference on data and the digital economy alongside his French counterpart, Mounir Mahjoubi. He will confirm the UK’s world-leading centre for AI and data, The Alan Turing Institute, is signing an agreement with the French institute, DATAIA, to promote collaboration between the French and British sectors.

It will see the two organisations pursue collaborative research in areas of shared interest - for example, in fairness and transparency in the design and implementation of algorithms.

They will also work together to share expertise, paving the way for visiting researchers to spend time at each Institute and hosting joint workshops and funding calls.

At the UK-France Digital Colloque - a summit of more than 350 businesses, researchers and officials from both countries - Hancock and Majoubi will also sign an accord on digital Government. This will commit to extending their cooperation in the digital sector - on innovation, AI, data and digital administration.

Hancock will also confirm that the London-based Entrepreneur First, a beacon for the UK’s excellence in developing tech talent, will continue its global expansion with a new Paris office.

Government reports that Hancock will “bang the drum” for British tech and promote the opportunities for business-to-business collaboration at a meeting with business leaders.

Digital Secretary, Matt Hancock, says: “The UK is a digital dynamo, increasingly recognised across the world as a place where ingenuity and innovation can flourish. We are home to four in ten of Europe’s tech businesses worth more than $1billion and London is the AI capital of Europe.

“France is also doing great work in this area, and these new partnerships show the strength and depth of our respective tech industries and are the first stage in us developing a closer working relationship. This will help us better serve our citizens and provide a boost for our digital economies.”

Alan Wilson, CEO of The Alan Turing Institute, adds: “The fundamental goal behind all our research is to build a data and AI enriched world for the benefit of all. In order to do this, it is critical to forge international collaborations and share our knowledge, expertise and ideas with other research centres around the world.

“The Institute and DATAIA both share a vision for building research in data science and AI which crosses disciplinary boundaries and recognises the societal implications of data and algorithms. It is a pleasure to kick-start this engagement and we look forward to working with them to advance UK and French excellence in this area."

Alex Brodie, partner, at UK law firm, Gowling WLG, adds: "The UK moved today to strengthen its tech partnership with France in what many see as both a positive move, and one that is defensive in relation to potential disruption in information and tech sharing post Brexit. A strategic partnership with France can only be good for the UK's digital economy and we look forward to seeing many more from Matt Hancock and his team."