The University of Edinburgh AI Accelerator


The Bayes Centre DDE Innovation

Meet this year's AI Accelerator's participants!

Our cohort is full of fantastic data-driven businesses, ready to make a real impact. Discover who they are here.

We also have many successful alumni from previous programmes.

What is it?

The AI Accelerator is delivered 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 gives data-driven scaleups the opportunity to harness the power of AI and bring about transformative change. From AgriTech to FinTech, AI technology can bring efficiencies, create new propositions and disrupt markets. It can help save lives and the planet.

The Accelerator is delivered in partnership with Edinburgh strategic design consultancy NileHQ and supported by Huawei UK.

Who can apply?

AI-focused entrepreneurs and businesses scaling up from across the UK and the world can apply to take part in this 6-month Accelerator to benefit from the expertise and talent on offer in Edinburgh. You do not need to be linked to the University of Edinburgh or based in the UK, but you will of course have an interest in engaging with the AI and data ecosystem in Scotland. The next AI Accelerator programme will be focused around 3 key themes:

  • AI for climate change
  • AI for global health
  • AI for good

Applications are now closed.

Why should I apply?

Apply now if your business is using AI in any of the thematic areas and has the potential to scale in the next six months.

The successful companies will benefit from a tailored programme for AI scaleups including:

- Workshops and dedicated mentors to support you in developing a wide range of business skills from sales and marketing to financial planning

- Opportunities to connect with the University of Edinburgh’s world leading academic expertise and student talent

- A stipend of between £5k and £10k per company with the chance to win additional funding (exact amount TBC)

- Connections to investors as well as local and global networks

- Support from our dedicated programme team, partners and supporters and your peers

- The opportunity to be a part of the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s innovation hub for data science and AI - including access to the centre’s incredible facilities, office space for six months and its inspirational and collaborative data driven community

- Links with Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation hubs, including the National Robotarium, the Usher Institute for population data science, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Easter Bush and Edinburgh International Data Facility.

Key Dates

The programme will started in mid September 2022 and will run until the end of March 2023.

We expect applications for the next cohort to open in April 2023. Please keep an eye on these pages for further details

Where does it take place?

The AI Accelerator is hosted both online and through face-to-face sessions. It is delivered by the University of Edinburgh’s Data Science and AI innovation and enterprise hub - Bayes Centre – on behalf of all the Data-Driven Innovation hubs.

The next AI Accelerator programme will run from September 2022 to March 2023.

Climate Change

Who can apply? Tackling climate change spans every industry. You could be using AI to solve waste management issues or improve energy efficiency. You could be in transport, in agriculture or financial services. What’s important is that your product or service has a clearly demonstrable use in addressing the climate emergency.

How can we help? All the Data-Driven Innovation hubs have their own focus on different aspects of climate change and on the technologies that can be leveraged to help. For example, the Space Innovation Hub is core to the Bayes Centre. The Roslin Innovation Centre have a focus on addressing food security. Linking the hubs across the University is the Edinburgh Earth Initiative, which supports University collaboration and co-ordination to manage and mitigate the effects of climate change and can support linking into expertise across the institution.

Health

Who can apply? From enabling drug discovery to improving the quality of life for an ageing population, there are many ways in which data-driven innovation can support the health of the world’s population. Companies applying under this theme could be working in areas from medical devices to health education. If your offering is designed to have a positive health impact, we’d like to hear from you.

How can we help? The University’s Usher Institute aims to transform health in society. Bringing new healthcare products to the market is difficult with complex regulations and a long sales cycle. Along with the main programme of activity, we will engage with mentors and run sessions to help with your industry specific challenges.

AI for Good

Who can apply? This cross-cutting theme aims to support companies who are using AI technology for societal benefit. Your solution could be aimed at improving the ethics of automated decision making, it could be designed to reduce inequalities in access to education or money or it might be helping people in a humanitarian crisis.

How can we help? The Edinburgh Futures Institute is home to the Centre for Technomoral Futures and the Centre for Data, Culture and Society. Whether you’re a socially focused fintech or about widening access to creative industries, you’re likely to find like-minded people in EFI.

FAQs

Q: Do applicants need to be focussed on any particular sector, technologies or applications of AI?

A: We are interested in a variety of sectors, especially in companies who are purpose driven. Applicants do need to fit into the three thematic areas, however these themes are broad. You must be using AI at some level but you could be looking to use the accelerator to turbo-charge the AI element of your product, or you could already be strong in the AI elements and looking for support on the entrepreneurial and commercial side.

Q: What are the criteria for company size and stage?

A: We are looking for scaleups, so you will need to be an incorporated company, ideally post-revenue having already attracted some funding and with fully dedicated founders. However there are no hard limits here; bootstrappers and pre-revenue companies are also welcome to apply, and may be selected if they can demonstrate growth potential.

Q: Are there any restrictions on international applicants?

A: We are keen to welcome applications from international businesses who are interested in engaging with Scotland. You must be aware that workshops and meetings will run on UK time. Some sessions will be face to face and you will be expected to attend in person. For certain sessions, we will attempt to make provision for people who are unable to attend in person, but this will not always be possible.

Q: What will the selection process look like?

A: Fill in the application form online. After applications close, we will invite shortlisted companies to a selection panel in June (on 20th and 21st), where you will pitch your business for inclusion in the programme. We plan to let applicants know the outcome around the end of June.

Q: Can I save and return to the application?

A: Unfortunately not. However you can download the questions and get everything ready offline.

Q: How long will it take to complicate the application form?

A: Many of the questions will relate to information which you will already have, however we recommend you give yourself at least an hour to an hour and half to complete to give yourself the best chance of success.

Q: Given the pandemic, how will the programme be run?

A: We expect to adopt a hybrid approach, with some activities being run online only, some face to face only and some combined online and F2F. We will design the programme to have F2F weeks and online weeks, so that people who are travelling can maximise the value of their travel. This is obviously subject to change depending on the situation. Activities will be a mixture of workshops, 1-1s with mentors and coaches and informal sessions with the rest of the cohort.

Q: How many companies are you looking for?

A: We can take up to 12 companies.


Q: What time commitment is needed?

A: Activities will normally run on a Wednesday and Thursday, although occasionally on different days. We expect founders to be able to commit around 5-6 hours per week, although this time doesn’t always need to come from the same person. We will take 2-3 weeks off at Christmas-time and plan to have a one or two rest weeks (TBC).

Q: How will the free office space work?

A: We will provide companies taking part with free access to bookable hot desks and meeting spaces within the Bayes Centre. This will provided for the duration of the programme and potentially for an additional 6 months after. Note, depending on how big your team is, we may not be able to provide a desk for everyone, so you may need to prioritise based on who will be taking part in accelerator activities.

Q: What role do partners and supporters have in the accelerator programme?

A: NileHQ are a strategic partner. They will deliver workshops and provide mentorship on a range of design topics such as UX or storytelling. Some of this engagement will be bespoke based on participant’s needs; one size does not fit all. Many companies participating in previous AI Accelerator programme have benefited hugely from Nile support.

Huawei UK are supporting the AI Accelerator for the first time, and there are lots of potential opportunities depending on your business – from accessing tech to providing a testbed for your product. And if you want to practice your pitch to a large corporate, they don’t get much bigger!

Meet your programme lead - Katy Guthrie

Find out more

Keen to participate in the next round or want to learn more about the AI Accelerator programme, please get in touch.

Email here

Our partners/ supporters

Nile HQ

Delighted to partner again with the Nile HQ team. A multi-talented strategic design consultancy, HQ'd in Scotland, distributed worldwide. They solve problems worth solving.

nilehq.com

Huawei

Huawei is a leading international tech company and one of the world’s biggest investors in R&D. Huawei UK is proud to be supporting the AI accelerator for the first time.

huawei.com/uk