University Accelerator looks to support next wave of world-leading AI companies

AI Accelerator cohorts: EI staff and participants from the 2021 programme

AN INITIATIVE which helps innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI)-focused start-up companies to maximise their full commercial potential has opened for new applicants today. The AI Accelerator is now seeking applications, from Scotland, the UK and beyond, from disruptive start-ups with strong growth aspirations. Those accepted benefit from a package of support aimed at helping transform their AI businesses into world-leading companies.   

The AI Accelerator has a proud track record in supporting innovative businesses. The 12 cohort companies which have just completed the AI Accelerator have raised a combined £4.3m through equity investments and grant funding awards while on the programme creating new, high-value jobs in the process.   

The programme will be delivered both digitally and in-person by the University of Edinburgh’s world-leading Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, the Bayes Centre, as part of the Bayes Centre DDE Innovation and Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service. It is led by the Data-Driven Innovation Programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal and delivered on behalf of all Data-Driven Innovation Hubs. 

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 businesses must all use AI for wider societal benefit to deliver solutions in core areas such as health and wellbeing, social care, and environmental stewardship.  

The AI Accelerator is highly focused on investment, giving participating companies an ideal 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.  

The University of Edinburgh is home to the largest centres for computing science and informatics in Europe. Through access to its academic expertise and links into the Data- Driven Innovation hubs, AI Accelerator participants will also benefit from collaboration and business profiling opportunities.   

The previous programme was delivered in partnership with Scale Space, a new community for innovative businesses looking to scale. Among the participants were a number of Scotland-based businesses including Carcinotech, a cancer research company which manufactures 3D printed tumours using patient-derived cancer stem cells, primary cells and established cell lines; and, developers of a screenplay platform which enables movie makes to find successful untold stories and gives a voice to more diverse writers. Participant companies from further afield include Milan-based Indigo, creators of a no-code platform that enables companies to easily build, scale and analyse conversational experiences which are bespoke to their business.  

The deadline for applications for the new AI Accelerator programme is 26 May. It will run for six months from mid-September.   

Charlotte Waugh, Enterprise and Innovation Programme Lead at Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, 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 AI Accelerator, said: “Through the AI Accelerator we are helping transform innovative start-ups into world-leading companies and supporting wider economic growth. 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.”   


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