University partners on new project to turn AI research into new companies

The University of Liverpool is a partner in a new accelerator project that will help early career researchers in artificial intelligence (AI) turn their work into start-up companies.

Starting in January 2024, the AI SuperConnector will provide a broad training in innovation and entrepreneurship, while addressing the unique challenges inherent in this fast-moving area of science.

The partners in the initiative – Imperial College London (lead), University of Liverpool,  University of Leeds and the University of York – have complementary strengths in a wide range of AI sectors, from defence and security to health, and from sustainability and climate change to robotics and autonomous systems.

The initiative has secured nearly £1.5 million in support from the Research England Connecting Capability Fund. It will accept applications from early career researchers in all four institutions, offering them a six-month programme that will focus on developing the commercial potential of their innovations.

Dr Simon Hepworth, Director of Imperial Enterprise: “The AI SuperConnector will transform today’s researchers at the forefront of AI discovery into tomorrow’s start-up and scale-up leaders. These researchers will already be experts in state-of-the-art AI and its application to societal challenges, but thanks to the AI SuperConnector they will become conversant in commercialisation and comfortable in ecosystems that span multiple business sectors.”

Professor Anthony Hollander, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact, said: “The University of Liverpool is part of the strong regional AI innovation ecosystem, and the AI SuperConnector project is an opportunity for us to build a UK-wide AI start-up support network to advance AI innovation. We’re thrilled to be part of a collaboration that is creating a supportive infrastructure through establishing networks and mentorships, and bringing together stakeholders across academia, industry and investors.”

The AI SuperConnector builds on Imperial’s experience running the MedTech SuperConnector, a collaborative medical technology accelerator set up in 2018. In its first three years, this initiative has expanded the horizons of over 85 early career researchers, and created 14 spinouts. These new companies raised more than £17 million in venture capital funding and grants in their first three years.

The initiative will address AI-specific challenges such as rapidly advancing technology, regulatory frameworks and ethical concerns around its use. It will also tackle regional inequalities in funding and difficulties accessing investment and infrastructure for early stage start-ups.

Find out about the University of Liverpool’s AI innovations here.

Read more about the AI SuperConnector collaboration here.