Flexible AI Upskilling Fund pilot: open for applications


The Flexible AI Upskilling Fund pilot scheme will support SMEs in the Professional and Business Services Sector by match-funding AI skills training for their employees.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) recently announced a £7.4 million pilot scheme to subsidise the cost of AI skills training for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Professional Business Services sector. £6.4 million of grant funding is available. The application window is now been extended until 11.59pm on 18 August 2024.

Through this pilot programme, eligible business can apply for funding for up to 50% of the cost of AI skills training. This is training which supports employees to develop their technical skills and/or understanding of AI to be able to develop, deploy, or use AI in their role. Training can be at any level, from foundational skills helping trainees understand how AI can be used in their business to advanced technical skills allowing them to design and develop AI tools themselves.

From boosting efficiency in the workplace, ramping up productivity, and even unlocking new ways to treat disease and tackle climate change, boosting AI skills is key to allowing us to continue driving forward the next wave if innovation and opportunity. DSIT encourage all eligible businesses to apply, no matter where they currently are on their AI adoption journey.

Objectives of the programme

Artificial Intelligence holds huge opportunities to drive productivity and prosperity across the UK economy. It has the potential to increase UK GDP by up to 10.3% by 2030 – the equivalent of an additional £232 billion - and businesses who adopt AI are more likely to be successful than those that do not.

But evidence shows that a lack of AI skills in businesses is hindering AI adoption, in part due to low investment in AI upskilling in UK businesses, particularly in smaller companies.

This pilot programme will test whether training SMEs in AI maximises the value of adoption AI. Specifically, whether government support in the form of match-funding is an effective way of increasing employer-led upskilling in AI, and whether increased skills translate into AI adoption and firm-level productivity benefits.

Specifically, the pilot has the following objectives:

1. To stimulate employer investment in AI training
2. To address AI skills gaps in the UK workforce limiting AI adoption
3. To measure the impact of AI upskilling on business productivity and outcomes


The funding competition is open to applicants who:

  • are registered and operate in the UK
  • employ between 1-249 employees in the UK
  • are defined as an SME per the BEIS SME Action Plan
  • have been operating for at least 1 year
  • are able to match-fund 50% of the cost of the training, and
  • operate in the Professional and Business Services (PBS) sector (see the guidance attached for definition)

Please see the guidance attached for further detail on eligibility and application criteria.

Open for applications

Applications have now opened. £6.4 million of grant funding is available, and eligible businesses have until 11.59pm on 18 August 2024 to apply for funding. Please apply for the programme through Apply for A Grant.

DSIT has published a video of the pre-launch information webinar: https://youtu.be/Y4V7fpl3r1Y

Find out more