The Future belongs to the Data Scientists

As Artificial Intelligence and machine learning begin to proliferate, the commercial applications of these technologies are being brought directly to the marketplace, disrupting traditional modes of operation and re-vitalising whole sectors and occupations.

The five startups pitching at the Winton Labs Demo Day on February 9‘th showcased the innovative ways in which they are collecting, processing and understanding data to transform long-held and sometimes inefficient practices into easier, simpler and more valuable products for their customers. Take Cognitiv+, for example, who are helping companies to reduce inefficient contract management by removing the tedious process of manual contract reading. Or Terrabotics who process 2D satellite imagery into 3D & 4D terrain intelligence maps that can support the monitoring of energy, mining and construction projects.

Giles Pavey, previously Chief Data Scientist at dunhumby, has spoken of an explosion in the number of actions resulting from the collection of Big Data, and both of these businesses are examples of this. Speaking at the event, the Big Data specialist provided examples of his work with Tesco in creating the retailer’s huge data analytics function that allowed for the monitoring and simulation of customer shopping habits (and even a virtual store in South Korea). Ultimately this huge bank of data allowed it to predict the future – if, for example, a delivery of fresh vegetables fell-through and customers went elsewhere, the data scientists could accurately calculate the cost to the business as a result.

The future may also be a little closer than we think – and it’s called Alexa. Following pitches from the remaining startups (alterest, Smap Energy and Warwick Analytics), the founder of Evi, William Tunstall-Pedoe, took us through the incredible 10-year journey of one of Britain’s most influential startups which has created the artificial intelligence technology found in the Amazon Echo.

It was an inspiring story of multiple changes in direction for the business, from competing with Google for search-engine dominance and culminating in bringing the most powerful communication tools ever invented into our homes. It’s incredible to think that despite this, the vision throughout remained the same and resulted in producing one of the most intelligent digital personal assistants on the market.

With a room full of mentors, potential investors and Winton executives who had been on hand throughout the 13 week programme to offer guidance and support, the final Demo Day brought together some of the most knowledgeable minds in the industry. We also collaborated with the Alan Turing Institute, who provided academic mentorship to assist the companies.

As this cohort of startups graduate from Winton Labs we look forward to remaining close with them and looking out for the exciting developments that are on the horizon.

Highlights from the second cohort include:

  • Cognitiv+, an artificial intelligence platform that automates knowledge extraction from legal data, have recently won a major Grant with InnovateUK on the open-programme; one of the most competitive calls in 2016. Since starting on Winton Labs they have started five pilots in Q1 2017 alone. They have also been named Export Champion as part of the CommonwealthFirst programme.
  • SMAP Energy, who use energy consumption data collected via smart meters to innovate the energy sector, now manages data from 30,000 smart meters in Japan and will be starting engagement with a Middle Eastern client in March. The team launched AIswitch recently, a free smart energy switching service for UK customers, while co-founder Yohei Kiguchi was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list.
  • Warwick Analytics, who automate predictive analytics even with heterogeneous data, have seen strong commercial progress with key enterprise companies, and will be moving from Winton Labs to the IAG accelerator: Hangar 51. Warwick have recently opened their US office, and current tech development will see a new release in Spark in under a month.
  • Terrabotics: Transform terabytes of satellite and aerial imagery into very high precision true 3D terrain data to model the Earth. This period of acceleration has brought in clients including a major mining company, a Private Equity fund and an investment research firm, as well as increasing business with existing customers in global Oil & Gas.
  • Alterest, a cloud platform providing institutional debt investors an efficient way to access the growing non-bank lending market, have seen further product developments, expansion of the team, and officially signed up institutional investors as engagement clients during the programme.

Author: Dylan Jones

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