By ET Bureau - September 14, 2023 5 Mins Read
An African agricultural business which helps the continent’s farmers increase crop yields is among the 13 cohort companies announced for this year’s University of Edinburgh AI Accelerator (AIA). The programme has selected a group of emerging companies from Scotland, the UK and other parts of the globe which are focused on using ‘AI for good.’
This year’s participants include Kenya-based Agritech Analytics. The company, led by its CEO and co-founder Maryanne Gichanga, uses AI technology to tackle annual crop losses in Africa caused by pests, diseases, and climate change. Among the other international businesses taking part in the 2023/24 programme is Netherlands-based Happitech, a company that is leveraging smartphone technology to provide a transformative solution in addressing heart disease.
This year’s cohort also includes Black Goblin, a female-founded company based in Edinburgh, creators of an all-inclusive collaboration platform that enables independent content creators to design sound, and Dunfermline-based FC Labs. The company’s CoreTech offering is a health and safety-focused technology that allows individuals, teams and businesses to measure and manage mental fitness and wellbeing within the workplace.
To qualify for the programme, companies must use AI for wider societal benefit to deliver solutions in core areas such as health and wellbeing, social care, and environmental sustainability. Participants benefit from a package of support focused on building connections, as well as from leadership mentoring and support with product development to help transform their AI businesses into world-leading companies.
AIA is delivered by the Bayes Centre on behalf of the Data-Driven Innovation hubs, which help organisations tackle challenges of industry and society. Support is also provided by Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service.
Previous programme participants have included Inicio.ai, a company that supports both businesses and consumers in making debt management processes more efficient. While successfully completing the AIA last April, Inicio.ai closed a £1m fundraising round.
Meanwhile, Glasgow-based diagnostics spin-out Microplate Dx, another former AIA cohort company, announced last week that it had closed a £2.5m seed funding round to help it further develop its technology, and Edinburgh-headquartered mapping service Space Intelligence, which took part in the 2020 programme, raised over £2m at the end of last year.
The announcement of this year’s cohort follows The University of Edinburgh being named by Times Higher Education as the UK’s top-ranked university for AI research power. The latest QS World University Rankings have also named Edinburgh as the UK’s leading university for sustainability and placed it fourth globally out of 700 higher education institutions in this category.
Professor Ruth King, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre, said: “We warmly congratulate the 13 companies which have been selected for this year’s AI Accelerator programme through a highly competitive process. The cohort includes a diverse group of companies that are using AI innovation to drive progress in addressing societal challenges in key areas including healthcare and climate change.
“This programme has a clear focus in helping AI-driven businesses further commercialise their proposition to make them world-leading companies. As we have seen from the progress of many of its former participants, the programme has a proud record in helping AI innovators scale up and attract investment to help maximise their full potential.”
John Brodie, who was appointed last year as the AI Accelerator programme’s Entrepreneur in Residence, said: “As an entrepreneur who is passionate about driving actionable data science projects and enabling early-stage businesses to scale, I am incredibly excited to be once again working with the companies involved in this year’s AI Accelerator. The engagement of world-leading, innovative businesses from Scotland, the UK and across the globe underline the impact of this highly-regarded programme in developing AI-for-good solutions.”
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Scottish Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead MSP said: “Most experts agree that the impact of artificial intelligence on our lives will be huge, and that if we do it right, AI can do a lot of good, from designing new drugs to tackling the climate emergency. Artificial intelligence has, however, triggered heated worldwide debate.
“We are working to make Scotland a world leader in the development and use of artificial intelligence in a way which is trustworthy, ethical and inclusive. To do so we must rise to the challenges and opportunities, which will be felt across our economy and society.
“The Scottish Government’s new Programme for Government recognises big data and artificial intelligence as a key growth sector, and programmes such as the University of Edinburgh’s AI Accelerator are already demonstrating the significant role Scotland is playing in this important exciting industry. The Accelerator’s themes – climate, health and AI for good – chime with our objective that Scotland maximises both the potential economic and social benefits of AI.”
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