A Scottish scale-up programme has opened its doors to find 12 data-driven startups that are ready to make “transformational change”.

The University of Edinburgh’s AI Accelerator programme, which helps the “best” artificial intelligence (AI) companies to grow into world-leading companies, is seeking applicants from across the globe.

The current AI Accelerator programme comprises 15 firms, each of which is addressing a global challenge, with many responding to urgent needs in the health and climate change domains.

Through the University of Edinburgh’s partnership with Scale Space, successful applicants will have access to a wide range of expertise, mentoring and knowledge, to help them grow faster and stronger. 

Scale Space is a growth community which connects businesses together for mutual benefit and knowledge sharing. It is backed by Blenheim Chalcot – a leading digital venture builder in the UK – and has recently launched its first physical site in London.

The scheme will be delivered both digitally and in-person by Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, and Bayes Centre, its innovation hub for data science and artificial intelligence, on behalf of all the DDI – data-driven innovation – hubs.

The AI Accelerator, which will run for six months from 22 September to 18 March 2022, is also supported by Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy Nile.

Companies on the current programme include BioLiberty, designers of an AI-powered robotic glove that strengthens the user’s grip, Neeuro, which utilises brain-computer interface technology to help ADHD children improve their attention span, and Reath, which enables companies to find compliant and scalable solutions for reusing single use items that have been sent to landfill.

BioLiberty’s grip-strengthening robotic arm/Supplied

Charlotte Waugh, enterprise and innovation programme lead, Edinburgh Innovations, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this fantastic opportunity to global data driven AI scale-ups, and to be partnering once again with Scale Space and Nile to build on the success of previous AI Accelerator programmes. Our USP is providing entrepreneurs with support on commercial skills at the same time as enabling them to tap into the University of Edinburgh’s world leading academic knowledge, data sets, talent and supercomputing facilities.

“The Bayes Centre, supported by Edinburgh Innovations, is at the heart of delivering this unique cross-hub collaboration ensuring cutting edge AI tech is at the heart of  these market led, real world solutions and providing specialist input, connections and investor networks that scale businesses quickly and successfully.”

Mark Sanders, executive chairman, Scale Space, and entrepreneur-in-residence, said: “I am so very proud to be Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the University of Edinburgh AI Accelerator for a second time and I can’t wait to meet the new cohort. Great things happen when you bring together academic excellence with business-building expertise, and the support provided by this programme is ideal for ambitious scaling businesses.

“In just a few months, the previous cohort made incredible progress in all areas of their business, developing clearer product propositions, sustainable commercial models and growth strategies. I wish that group the best of luck and I especially look forward to being able to welcome the new group to attend sessions at Scale Space in White City, which will help build their connections to Imperial College and the London market.

Jim Ashe, director of innovation, Bayes Centre, College of Science and Engineering, said: “The AI Accelerator provides an opportunity for data driven AI start-ups to grow and scale their businesses, in a dynamic environment – enabling connections with investors, mentors and their peers. The cohort will have access to the invaluable resources that the Bayes Centre provides.”

The 12 companies selected to join the AI Accelerator will each receive a £9,000 grant from the Scottish Funding Council, which is financing through programme through the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme.

Applications to the programme open on 8 August and can be made here.