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Start-up wins £340k UCL fund for AI data privacy ahead of GDPR

Could AI be the answer to data privacy strategy?

By Sabrina Dougall

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Data privacy is the name of the game as the GDPR deadline looms: 25th May 2018. The approaching EU regulation will crack down on loose data security policies, with businesses facing fines if they do not comply.

Ahead of this cut-off date, a start-up specialising in data anonymisation software has won £340,000 in pre-seed funding from UCL and several investors.

UCL Technology Fund, along with London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF), AI Seed and Ascension Ventures have partnered with Anon AI to fund work on its developer tool to automate data anonymisation. Data entrepreneurs Harry Keen (CEO) and James Arthur (CTO) and their team will benefit from the expertise of UCL academics in machine learning and cognitive neuroscience.

“Organisations are drowning in data and will face extensive compliance requirements once GDPR comes into effect next year” said David Grimm, investment manager, UCL Technology Fund. “Anon AI addresses the dual challenge of maintaining the security of mass personal data and preserving innovation.”

Recent research has cast doubt over UK enterprises’ readiness for the fast-approaching cut-off for GDPR compliance. Around half of IT professionals in the UK told CWJobs that cybersecurity had been factored into their training in 2017. Furthermore, a worrying 82% of

Could AI be the answer to data privacy strategy? While artificial intelligence programmes promise much, most business applications currently on the market are in an adolescent phase rather than reaching lynchpin status.

Indeed, 26% of senior-level executives from a range of industries expressed concerns that increased AI rolled out by businesses, government and private individuals could present challenges surrounding data privacy and GDPR compliance, according to a survey from SAS in August 2017.

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Ed Lascelles, head of technology at Albion Capital, explained how AI can have a broad range of applications across enterprise sectors. He told CBR: “Machine learning uses are gaining increasingly widespread recognition, with innovations solving a broad range of problems in addition to optimising marketing ads. Exciting areas include cybersecurity, fraud, credit scoring, medical diagnostics – especially cancer diagnostics – and Edtech. Any function that produces lots of data can be optimised through AI.”

Keen and Arthur, who previously worked together at Opendesk, an online retailer co-founded by Arthur, remain optimistic about the start-up’s chances.

“We are excited to be working with UCL’s machine learning experts to create intelligent, commercially viable software, which we can begin rolling out to our waiting list of potential clients.” said Keen. “This investment will enable us to create a tool that addresses one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today: avoiding the potentially catastrophic consequences of a data breach, while tapping into a vast source of opportunity.”

Anon AI is the fourth AI business that the £50m UCL Technology Fund, managed by Albion Capital, has invested in since its launch in January 2016.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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