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Digital Catapult names AI start-ups for Machine Intelligence Garage programme

David Bicknell Published 25 January 2018

Those chosen include digital manufacturing start-ups Intellisense and Predina, digital health companies Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems and GTN, and natural language processing specialist Bloomsbury AI


On the day Prime Minister Theresa May espoused the transformational benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) at Davos, technology innovation centre Digital Catapult announced the first cohort of start-ups selected to join the Machine Intelligence Garage programme driving AI and machine learning (ML) in the UK.

The selected start-ups will benefit from access to computation power and expertise, removing a significant barrier to growth in this area. A recent Digital Catapult study ‘Machines for Machine Intelligence’ which surveyed around 10% of the UK's AI and machine learning start-ups found that over half are constrained in their growth by access to computation power. A single training run for a ML system can cost upwards of £10,000.

The start-ups were unveiled at an AI industry event organised by Digital Catapult at its London centre, which formally launched the programme’s first cohort. Those selected to take part included digital manufacturing start-ups Intellisense and Predina, digital health start-ups Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems and GTN, and the natural language processing start-up Bloomsbury AI.

Machine Intelligence Garage is a key part of Digital Catapult’s AI strategy, to collaboratively work with industry and academia to promote rapid adoption of AI across sectors and the wider economy.

Dr Marko Balabanovic, chief technology officer at Digital Catapult, said, “We’re incredibly excited to be announcing the first cohort of AI and ML start-ups to participate in the Machine Intelligence Garage as part of our work to support early-stage AI development. Machine Intelligence Garage is part of a broad programme at Digital Catapult to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence technologies across UK companies and industries, with particular applications in areas like digital manufacturing or the creative industries where there are potential large gains in growth and productivity.”

“Members of the first cohort have been carefully selected for their innovative use cases in AI, ethical values and ambition. We’re confident that their journey with the Machine Intelligence Garage will provide them with the support, expertise and compute resource they need to reach their full potential.”

Dame Wendy Hall, who addressed the event via video, said, “As recognised by the recent “Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK” independent review by CEO Jerome Pesenti and myself, access to computation power is amongst the significant barriers to innovation around Machine Learning and AI. It is great to see Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme addressing this barrier for start-ups, and we hope to see cross fertilisation with other organisations such as The Alan Turing Institute that will be looking into similar challenges for the academic community.”

The event was the first opportunity for the start-ups to meet the partners who will be helping them develop their products. Keynote speeches were delivered by Azeem Azhar, Exponential View and Senior Advisor, Accenture; AI ethics specialist, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford and Fellow of The Alan Turing Institute, Dr. Luciano Floridi; and Dr. Ruth McKernan, chief executive of Innovate UK.

The Machine Intelligence Garage programme is available to companies that are developing products or services that use ML or AI. The next Open Call went live on 23 January 2018, with applications to roll every six weeks.

Applications are assessed based on the strength of the idea submitted and technical implementation plan, availability of data, and the immediacy of the need for computation power. Companies’ ethical use of data is also paramount.

The programme will run for three years and is delivered by Digital Catapult as part of the CAP-AI project and is part funded through the European Regional Development Fund and an Innovate UK grant.

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