Call for applicants for forthcoming AI Accelerator intake helping start-ups reach potential

An initiative that helps innovative artificial intelligence (AI)-focused start-ups tackling societal challenges to maximise their full commercial potential has opened for new applicants today.

The AI Accelerator – delivered by relevant arms of the University of Edinburgh – is now seeking applications, from Scotland, the UK and beyond, from disruptive firms with strong growth aspirations. The next intake will run for six months from mid-September, and participants secure a package of support aimed at helping their businesses become “world-leading”, say organisers.

The 12 cohort companies that have just completed the AI Accelerator were found to have raised a combined £4.3 million through equity investments and grant funding awards while on the programme, creating high-value jobs in the process.

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The programme will be delivered both digitally and in person by the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, as part of the Bayes Centre DDE Innovation, and Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.

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It is led by the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal and delivered on behalf of all DDI Hubs, and participants will also benefit from collaboration and business profiling opportunities.

The programme, partnered by global strategic design consultancy NileHQ and supported by Huawei UK, is open to applications “from scalable incorporated companies with high-growth potential”. The remit for relevant businesses is that they must all use AI for wider societal benefit to tackle core areas such as health and wellbeing, social care, and environmental stewardship. 

The AI Accelerator added that it is “highly” focused on investment, giving participating companies a platform to develop an investment strategy and meet potential investors. “Along with some generous financial support, newly accepted cohorts will also be given the opportunity to scale their business through a series of workshops with trainers and mentors covering a range of commercialisation issues from product pricing to leadership,” it also said.  

Staff and participants from the 2021 programme. Picture: contributed.

The previous programme was delivered in partnership with Scale Space, a new community for innovative businesses looking to scale. Participants included Scotland-based businesses such as Carcinotech, a cancer research company that manufactures 3D printed tumours using patient-derived cancer stem cells, primary cells, and established cell lines; and Chara.ai, developers of a screenplay platform enabling film-makers to find compelling untold stories and giving a voice to more diverse writers.

Innovation

Charlotte Waugh, enterprise and innovation programme lead at Edinburgh Innovations, said: “We’re delighted to invite applications for the next AI Accelerator, a highly successful programme that is helping maximise the commercial potential of innovative start-up companies.   

“The programme provides founders with top-level strategic advice and focuses on practical issues to help companies to achieve their growth aspirations. We also connect our cohorts to the local, national and international investment community, which has been critical in helping participating companies secure millions of pounds in growth capital.” 

Katy Guthrie, programme leader of the AI Accelerator, said it is supporting wider economic growth as well as helping innovative start-ups achieve global success. “Our commitment to promoting AI for good is aimed at encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs who are focused on addressing key societal challenges such as tackling climate change or health inequalities,” she added.

The deadline for applications for the next AI Accelerator programme is May 26.

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