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| 2 minutes read

UK - Streamlining Regulation: DRCF launches AI and Digital Hub

In a groundbreaking move aimed at fostering innovation in the digital and AI sectors, whilst continuing to regulate quickly evolving nascent markets, the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (“DRCF”) has initiated a one-year pilot programme, the AI and Digital Hub. 

The DRCF, established in July 2020, is a collaborative body comprised of four leading regulatory authorities - the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), the Information Commissioner's Office (“ICO”), and Ofcom. The AI and Digital Hub is a government-funded initiative designed to support innovators working on cutting-edge AI and digital products by providing free, expert (but informal) advice on complex regulatory issues. The unique feature of this programme is its multi-regulatory approach. It caters to queries that overlap the jurisdiction of more than one DRCF regulator, thereby significantly simplifying the regulatory navigation process for innovators.

By offering joint guidance on how various regulatory requirements might apply to a particular product, the Hub hopes to eliminate the need to liaise with each regulator separately. This streamlined support should expedite the process of bringing new AI and digital products and services to market, ensuring they are compliant, safe, and ready to make their mark. 

Who can use the Hub?

Access to the Hub is easy and convenient, with applications accepted directly through the DRCF website. The service is open to innovators who are developing a new product, service, or business model that meets specific criteria, in that it:

  1. has an AI/digital focus;
  2. falls within the jurisdiction of at least two of the regulators; 
  3. is innovative; and 
  4. offers benefits to consumers, businesses, and/or the UK economy.

The DRCF has adopted a broad definition of 'innovative' to encompass both incremental and radical improvements to products, services, or business models. The aim is to ensure that all forms of innovation, big or small, can gain from this initiative.

The Hub will aim to respond to the initial query within five working days, and, if it considers the query to be eligible, intends to follow up with a detailed response within eight weeks, subject to the query’s complexity and the number of regulators involved.

As part of its commitment to support and inform the wider business community, the DRCF also plans to publish anonymised case studies from the Hub on its website. This will enable innovators to refer to past informal advice to check if their questions have already been addressed, providing valuable insights, and helping them to navigate their own regulatory journeys. It is therefore important, however, that those wishing to participate in the Hub recognise that their query, and the response they receive, will be published (and should therefore also consider any confidentiality concerns).


The AI and Digital Hub represents a step forward in fostering innovation in the AI and digital sectors. By providing a one-stop regulatory advice platform, it promises to reduce the burden of dealing with multiple regulators. However, there are concerns that this is the introduction of yet another regulatory barrier for businesses to contend with. At the end of the pilot, regulators should take stock and assess whether the Hub has simplified regulation (as intended) or added a layer of complexity. 

For more information, please contact Dr Saskia King, Ariane Le Strat, Tenisha Cramer and Aimee Guzinska-Bowley.



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