Find out more
Real-world challenges, unreal solutions
Applied AI is Tech Nation’s first growth programme for Artificial Intelligence to help the UK’s most promising founders who are applying AI in practical areas and to create real-world impact. We do this through peer-to-peer support and the shared experience of later-stage founders, all curated under values of honesty, intimacy and trust.
We know that scaling an AI company comes with its own, unique challenges. This is a network that will unpack the AI-specific scaling journey, led by those who have done it and with the support of like-minded peers.
Our six-month programme focuses on providing founders and leaders of the sector with invaluable skills, a powerful network – including peers, investors and potential clients – and the ability to implement changes that will help their companies grow.
It’s free to join, and we don’t take an equity stake in your business. To determine who gets a place on the cohort, we’ve put together a panel of expert judges.
Tech Nation is proud to have so many industry leaders support our Applied AI programme.
We focus on getting in the best and most knowledgeable people to lead our sessions. The following speakers, mentors and insight peers have been confirmed.
We want to do things differently
Artificial Intelligence is making waves. With countries around the world investing heavily in grand plans and strategies for the technology, it has never been more important to support AI that is solving real-world problems in the UK. Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and a member of the Applied AI judging panel, explains that more impactful changes and initiatives are continuing to be actioned for AI
The UK has continued to make strides as an international leader in Artificial Intelligence, since the recommendations of the AI Review that I co-authored in 2017. From the launch of the bespoke AI & Data Sector Deal, to the recently announced AI Council, we are seeing impactful initiatives announced to continue this important work. I am therefore thrilled to see that Tech Nation has created a tailored, nationally-focused growth programme for entrepreneurs in the Applied AI spaceDame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton
Looking past the hype
Our conversations with founders and VC’s have told us that scaling an Applied AI company is particularly tough, and the pool of companies post-series A is relatively small, despite the hype. Some of the key issues founders have reported are:
- Demonstrating sufficient traction for series A
- Proving the higher valuations we tend to see at seed
- Taking algorithms from the lab and applying them to solving real issues
- Complex procurement and regulation
- Talent acquisition
- Their strengths are in their tech rather than commercial and marketing
- Customer readiness, particularly with non-technical buyers. Find out how Tech Nation is working to change this.
Tech Nation is looking for AI companies that have the ambition to grow, are looking at solving wider problems, and have an ethical sense and want to contribute positively to the sector. Angie Ma, COO of Faculty and one of our Applied AI judges, perfectly describes what we’re trying to achieve:
Angie Ma, COO of Faculty
“AI is the transformational technology of our time, but for society to see the benefits we need to apply it in the real-world enhancing products, improving services and saving lives.”
Supporting the future of AI
A big part of supporting the future of AI involves democratising and diversifying the workforce, which is why Tech Nation’s Applied AI programme is collaborating with Teens in AI, an Acorn Aspirations initiative. It aims to increase diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence by engaging with young people aged 12 to 18 years and providing them with early exposure to AI for social good.
This initiative was launched at the AI for Good Global Summit at the UN in May 2018. The aim is to create opportunities for underrepresented talent through a combination of hackathons, boot camps, accelerators, expert mentoring and networking opportunities.
Originally founded by Elena Spinel, Founder of Acorn Inspirations, the initiative is a huge opportunity for children to positively impact the AI of tomorrow and diversify the future workforce of AI by creating opportunities for children from diverse backgrounds.
“It’s vital that young people from all backgrounds have a chance to participate in our programmes. The real societal impact can only be achieved when technology that powers the world is representative of the diverse societal makeup of the world and this is exactly what Teens in AI is attempting to achieve: offer opportunities to all young people, irrespective of their gender or background, to express their voices through technology for social good.”Elena Spinel, Founder of Acorn Aspirations & Teens in AI
Want to support the Teens?
Teens in AI are constantly looking for experts supporters, mentors, judges and people who can give opportunities to the teens involved in the programme. If you’re interested, you can ask more questions and register for mentoring or speaking here, or email Elena directly for more information about sponsoring a teen and supporting the programme.
How does the programme work?
We aim to support 20 AI startups during this six-month programme. Your company could focus on anything from mobility to manufacturing, from e-commerce to healthcare, but to be eligible, your product must help a business or industry solve an identified, real problem.
To apply for the programme your business must:
- Have headquarters in the UK
- Have Artificial Intelligence at the core of your value proposition and your key product, not an excess feature
- Seed to Series A* (or no more than £1.5m annual recurring revenue)
- Take into account ethical considerations
Founder-focused sessions delivered by world-leading scale coaches covering core issues.
Intimate networking sessions designed with the wider leadership team in mind and the challenges you face.
Several trips, including one international trip co-organised with DIT, to showcase companies at home and overseas.
The chance to share experiences, problem-solve and learn from industry leaders.
What happens in the application process?
You can apply online. We will ask for some basic information about your company and why you wish to join Applied AI. If you have questions or need assistance, please get in touch.
Your application will be passed to our expert panel of judges, and they will make the final decision on which companies are chosen to join. The final judging round is at the end of July.
If successful, you will be contacted by Tech Nation and asked to join our very first Applied AI cohort. The programme will be kicking off on the 12th and 13th of September.
Unsure if your company should apply?
If you would like to discuss whether your business is right for the programme, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or feel free to get in touch with the Entrepreneur Engagement Manager (EEM) in your area:
We’re working with the UK Government Office for AI as part of the AI and Data Sector Deal, to help scale the UK’s most exciting AI companies.