Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme is aiming to drive the development of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK by supporting and assisting fledgling machine intelligence-driven companies.
The first five companies to receive this support are: bionics company Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems, drugs discovery company GTN, natural language processing startup Bloomsbury AI, vehicle-risk mitigation platform Predina, and Intellisense which is optimising the natural resources industry.
Dr Anat Elhalal, a lead technology for machine learning and artificial intelligence at Digital Catapult, explained why the programme was conceived. “We started talking to companies about a year ago and they were telling us about difficulties around access to computation power and relevant expertise about it,” she said.
While the cost of cloud computing is decreasing, the requirements of computation and inference from machine learning are going up, which leaves AI start-ups in a situation where they can’t afford the investment to get a proof of concept. “Machine Intelligence Garage was built to help companies overcome this barrier to innovation,” said Elhalal.
She went on to explain that, on a practical level, the Machine Intelligence Garage will physically host hardware for experimentation and partners Google Cloud and AWS will issue the companies with vouchers worth up to $100,000.
Furthermore, Machine Intelligence Garage will run a series of demonstrations so that the companies can have hands-on experience of new developments in the field and has partnered with high-performance computing infrastructure providers, the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Hartree Centre and EPCC. Other partners collaborating with the programme are CAP-AI, Graphcore, EPCC, Newcastle University, NVIDIA and SpiNNaker.
Companies can apply to join on a rolling basis and the garage will be accepting new companies every six to eight weeks. The programme will run for three years.
“We fund programmes and create facilities and environments that allow companies to move more quickly to overcome problems that are holding them back and to open up new market opportunities, to allow them to grow rapidly, to translate their know-how to the experience of larger companies and to compete globally,” said Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult.