The recently published UKRI statement of opportunity ’Transforming our world with AI’, sets out the broad cross-disciplinary and cross-sector opportunities to support artificial intelligence (AI) research and innovation in the UK.

To further explore the emerging potential of AI in relation to the biosciences, UKRI-BBSRC is seeking input from the community to help us understand future requirements and ensure AI can have transformative impact within the biosciences.

The questionnaire will cover the following overarching topics:

- Current landscape
- Opportunities and potentials
- People and talent
- Infrastructure

Artificial intelligence describes a suite of computational technologies and tools that aim to reproduce or surpass abilities of humans to undertake complex tasks like learning and problem solving, either with or without human intervention. For the purposes of this questionnaire, please consider AI as covering a wide spectrum of technologies with these capabilities that include, but are not limited to, approaches such as machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and other related technologies.

Responses from individuals, departments, HEIs, scientific societies, industry and other stakeholders with an interest in AI for the biosciences are welcomed. We would also particularly encourage responses from:

- Early career researchers
- Professional support staff
- Non-bioscience researchers working in related areas, such as mathematical and computational sciences

All information submitted to UKRI-BBSRC will be treated in confidence. Non-attributable comments from the questionnaire responses may be used as part of subsequent activities (e.g. to inform discussion with our advisory bodies or to contextualise future community engagement).


The questionnaire contains 22 questions in total. We have supplied a Word Document with a full list of the questions, and suggest you use this to formulate your responses. The Word document is available in the 'downloads' section of the website.

The deadline for responses is 22 September 2021, 4pm.

We recommend only completing the online registration survey once you have all the necessary information.  However, if you accept the recommended cookies you will be able to edit draft responses until the registration close date by returning to this page using the same device and browser used to submit the draft. Please ensure you click 'submit' to save either draft or completed responses. If you do not click 'submit' changes made to this page will not be saved. If you are required to submit multiple registrations, cookies must be cleared after the completion of each registration.

If you experience any problems in completing the questionnaire or require assistance in making your submission please contact

We thank you in advance for your time and input.
Privacy Notice

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) understands the importance of protecting personal information and is committed to complying with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR).

The information you have provided for the artificial intelligence in the biosciences questionnaire will be collated and anonymised prior to analysis and will not be attributable to individuals. Information gathered will be used by UKRI-BBSRC, alongside data gathered through other exercises, to:

- Provide a dialogue that facilitates strategy development
- Contact you for follow up questions regarding your submission
- Contact you regarding future engagement opportunities

If you do not agree to your data being used to this effect please let us know in your response (final question).

The personal data provided will be retained on our systems for as long as is required to carry out processing for the purposes outlined above. By providing your information you are consenting to its use as detailed above. You can access a copy of the UKRI Data Protection Policy here.
Section 1: About you

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* 1. Your details

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* 2. Which of the following most closely describes your position?

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* 3. Who are you submitting this response on behalf of? (please select one)

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* 4. What do you consider to be your broad area(s) of specialist knowledge? (select all that apply)

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* 5. Please describe the main area(s) of focus for your professional activities as relating to AI. (max 500 words)

For example (but not limited to):
- Research area(s)
- Motivation(s)
- Key scientific/biological questions and data types
- Expertise and experience in AI
- Involvement in AI software / method development or exploitation
- Involvement in community activities
- Training and provision of services

Section 2: Current landscape

The next set of questions is designed to provide a broad snapshot of the current landscape of AI within the biosciences.

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* 6. Please score the following statements how well from your perspective they reflect the current situation in your specific field(s) of research or sector.

  Agree Somewhat agree Neutral Somewhat disagree Disagree N/A
It is easy to understand how to apply AI to my research
AI has already transformed the way research and innovation is done in my field
The outputs of AI research are trusted in my field
Existing AI methods and tools adequately address our current needs
There is a strong pipeline of the latest creative and novel AI approaches into my field or sector
There is adequate provision of AI-focussed opportunities for training and continuing professional development in the UK
There are good opportunities to network, collaborate and connect across disciplines for AI in the UK
There are good opportunities to network, collaborate and connect across academics, businesses and end users for AI in the UK
Appropriate computational infrastructure is available to meet my AI needs
I have access to sufficient high quality data for use in AI (e.g. following FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable) guidelines)

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* 7. In order of importance, what do you view as the current key challenges to delivering your AI-related research goals? (max 50 words per answer)

Section 3: Opportunities and potentials

The following questions are intended to gather horizon scanning insights, ideas and perspectives. This section focuses on research and innovation, with later sections considering broader enablers (skills, infrastructure and data).

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* 8. What current or future AI technologies could deliver a substantial step change in current biosciences research capabilities, or deliver fundamentally new ones? (max 500 words)

For example:
- New AI methods or techniques addressing difficult challenges like analysing complex, sparse or multimodal data sets
- the potential for emerging developments in AI technologies and tools to deliver deeper insights or enable people to do research differently

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* 9. Where do you see exciting future AI-related opportunities or significant unmet bioscience research needs at the intersection between bioscience and AI? (max 500 words)

We would encourage you to consider potentially exciting and impactful nearer-term outcomes, as well as ambitious longer-term goals.

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* 10. In order of priority, what actions would you consider to be the most useful to support AI research in the biosciences over the next 5 years and briefly why? (max 50 words per answer)

Section 4: People and talent

This part of the questionnaire is intended to help us understand the current skills and social infrastructure supporting AI in the biosciences. Key issues raised previously include:

- The need to embed and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration
- Ensuring continuing professional development opportunities across all career stages
- The need for professional technical support, e.g. from research technical professionals and research software engineers
- Challenges in recruitment and retention of different roles, skills and qualifications.
Current landscape

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* 11. What do you consider the gaps in current provision which, if addressed, would have the biggest impact? Please rank the importance of the following statements (1-8, high to low) in supporting the use of AI in your field.

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* 12. Are there any other key areas relating to people and skills not mentioned in the list above? If so, please provide a brief description (maximum 50 words).

Recruitment and retention

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* 13. What are your key skills needs relating to AI? Which do you find are most challenging to recruit and/or retain? (maximum 50 words)

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* 14. Relating to these skills, what qualifications/ level of experience do you find are most challenging to recruit and retain? (select all that apply)

  Recruitment Retention
Apprenticeships (any level)
Up to A-level or equivalent
Undergraduate degree or equivalent
Postgraduate Masters degree or equivalent
Doctoral degree or equivalent
Postdoctoral experience
Group leader experience

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* 15. Where do you see the main challenges in recruitment and retention? (select all that apply)

  Recruitment Retention
People with desired qualifications
People with sufficient experience
Diverse demographic backgrounds
Attracting international talent
Competitive salary
Competitive labour market for their skills, choosing positions elsewhere
Working environment not what was expected
Insufficient opportunities for career progression
Insufficient opportunities for personal development
Community engagement

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* 16. What types of activity would you like to see supported to promote more community-level discussions and activities for UK AI bioscience? What benefits could such activities provide? (max 200 words)

Section 5: Infrastructure

Data resources, software and computing platforms managed by skilled technical professionals all constitute important infrastructure that underpins the effective use of AI. We are not attempting to comprehensively map this landscape or replicate information already considered as part of the UKRI-BBSRC review of data-intensive bioscience and UKRI research and innovation infrastructure opportunity report, but are seeking community views on key future needs with a particular focus on AI in the biosciences.

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* 17. Please list the main software and computing platforms you currently use for AI specifically.

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* 18. In order of importance, what do you see as the most significant future needs or changes in the current UK landscape regarding data resources, software and computing platforms specifically to enable your AI research and/or innovation activities? (max 50 words per answer)

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* 19. Please use the text box to provide a brief description of any other key issues relating to data resources, software and computing platforms you would like to flag, or further commentary you would like to add for the points raised above (maximum 100 words).

Section 6: Wrap up

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* 20. Please use this space to provide any final comments you wish to make (max 250 words)

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* 21. Optional: To better understand the diversity of responses it would be helpful to get your response to the following questions

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* 22. Would you be happy for us to contact you again to:

  Yes No
Provide updates on relevant activities?
Request further input?
We thank you for your time and input. Please note that you will not receive an email confirmation after submitting your responses. If you have any concerns please contact contact for confirmation.