Google’s $1bn for new AI data centre in Hertfordshire 

Tech giant announces equivalent of £788m for construction of 33-acre new premises at its Maxwell’s Farm site in Waltham Cross. 

The new data centre complex, which will be located some 12 miles north of central London, is intended to meet the growing demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud services, while also providing needed compute capacity to businesses in the UK. Google says this goes in hand with its ongoing work with the UK government to ‘make AI more helpful and accessible to people and organisations across the country.’ 

The proposed new data centre at Waltham Cross, image courtesy of Google

Research published last summer showed a six-fold increase in the number of UK AI companies over the past 10 years, while some 432,000 UK organisations – about one-sixth of the whole – have embraced AI. The first UK-based Google Cloud Platform (GCP) data centre region went live in July 2017. 

Debbie Weinstein, Vice President of Google and Managing Director of Google UK & Ireland, says: ‘People and businesses in every corner of the UK rely on data centres to power helpful services like Search, Maps, YouTube, Workspace and Google Cloud. As more people tap into the opportunities created by the country’s digital economy and we unlock new ways for AI-powered technologies to boost productivity, fuel creativity, improve health outcomes and unlock scientific discoveries, it’s vital that we invest in the technical infrastructure needed to support innovation and tech-led growth.’ 

Ruth Porat, President, Chief Investment Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Google’s parent company Alphabet, adds: ‘The Waltham Cross data centre represents our latest investment in the UK and the wide economy at large. This investment builds upon our St Giles and Kings Cross office developments, our multiyear research collaboration agreement with the University of Cambridge, and the Grace Hopper subsea cable that connects the UK with the United States and Spain.’ 

Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor the Exchequer, responded to the announcement, saying that he was, ‘Delighted to see this investment from Google [that] reflects the success of the UK tech sector, which is now the third largest in the world after the US and China – worth over $1 trillion and double the size of anywhere in Europe.’  

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also welcomed the news, saying: ‘The UK is a fantastic place to invest, and Google’s $1bn investment is testament to the fact that the UK is a centre of excellence in technology and has huge potential for growth. Foreign investment creates jobs and grows all regions of our economy, and investments like this will help to drive growth in the decade ahead. I will continue to back businesses to invest and innovate here in the UK.’ 

Work on the new site will also create construction and technical jobs in the local economy. 

In related news:

Government’s priorities for tech in 2024 

AI Safety Institute (AISI) now recruiting 

£1.5m for digital factory hub to aid manufacturing in Wales


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