About the programme

  • What is Machine Intelligence Garage?

    Machine Intelligence Garage developed by Digital Catapult, is an AI acceleration programme supporting UK machine intelligence startups. It provides access to the computation power and support, frameworks and expertise to accelerate the responsible and ethical development and application of AI across the industry.

  • Who is Machine Intelligence Garage developed by?

    Machine Intelligence Garage is developed and delivered by Digital Catapult, the UK’s leading advanced technology innovation centre.

    Machine Intelligence Garage is a project part funded by CAP-AI via an ERDF fund and Innovate UK.

  • What are the benefits of Machine Intelligence Garage

    For many artificial intelligence and machine learning startups access to computational power and expertise is a barrier to accelerating their growth. The Machine Intelligence Garage exists to support artificial intelligence and and machine learning startups from across the UK, providing many benefits:

    • Accelerate market growth and positioning – the opportunity to work with Machine Intelligence Garage’s experts provides cohorts with the opportunity to learn and develop, leading to greater market positioning and growth.
    • Develop new products and services – through the access to greater computational power and expertise, Machine Intelligence Garage is the perfect place to foment new ideas and test, learn and explore new market opportunities.
    • Ethical support – programme participants are provided with a range of tools that centre on helping startups use data and run operations more ethically and responsibly, whilst embedding good practice within the company and product.
    • Technical support and workshops – in addition to computation power, including cloud credits for AWS and Google Cloud Platform, access to deep learning servers and specialist hardware; the Machine Intelligence Garage also offers technical support activities such as partner office hours, focused workshops and regular meet-ups.
    • Investment and fundraising – through the investor focused activities, including the annual Investor Showcase, the programme offers the opportunity for selected startups to grow, develop and raise investment.
    • Engage with the wider Digital Catapult ecosystem – the Machine Intelligence Garage team can facilitate connections and access to opportunities within Digital Catapult, these opportunities could include engagements with our industry partners and partnerships on Collaborative Research and Development projects.
  • What does Machine Intelligence Garage provide to cohort members?

    Machine Intelligence Garage will provide early-stage UK machine intelligence companies with access to computation and expertise to help accelerate product development. In addition to computation power, including cloud credits for AWS or Google Cloud Platform, access to deep learning servers and specialist hardware; Machine Intelligence Garage also offers technical support activities such as partner office hours, focused workshops and regular meet-ups. Digital Catapult’s Ethics Committee has developed an ethics framework and provides programme participants with a range of tools that centre on helping startups use data and run operations more ethically and responsibly, whilst embedding good practice within the company and product. Machine Intelligence Garage gives startups an opportunity to participate in investor showcases and pitch to investors, whilst delivering investment activities and facilitating connections with a wide range of funds.

Application process

  • Who is Machine Intelligence Garage for?

    Machine Intelligence Garage is designed for AI and ML startups and scaleups with well-defined business models and technical capability.

    To qualify for access applicants will need to meet the below eligibility criteria:

    • Have a defined product or service idea
    • Have a clear business plan
    • Have a sound technical implementation plan
    • Have the team in place
    • Be compute constrained, this would normally apply to early or very early stage startups
    • Make ethical use of algorithms and data
  • How can I apply to join the programme?

    When an open call is live complete the short registration of interest form on this website (for our planned application run times see the programme timeline).

    An email will be sent to the address indicated in the short registration of interest form with the link to the full application form. Only applications received before the closing of the open call will be reviewed and considered.

    The selection process takes place approximately every 12 weeks, therefore, if the deadline for submission is missed businesses can register to join the next cohort.

  • What information is asked for in the application form?

    In addition to contact and company information the questions within the application form address technical, business and ethical aspects of the applicant organisation and product – you might need to collaborate with other team members when completing this form. The form can be modified and saved at any time before the final submission.

  • Can I save my application to come back to later?

    Yes, the form we use for the full application process can be modified and saved at any time before the final submission date. After full submission and completion forms cannot be altered or edited.

  • Who is application data shared with?

    The application information will only be used for the purposes of the programme and its evaluation, and will only be retained for the duration of the programme, and for participants on the programme for the evaluation period (maximum five years) and otherwise to comply with legal requirements.

  • Can I apply again if my previous application was not successful?

    Yes – if you have applied before and would like to be reconsidered or have altered your offering, you can apply for one of the open calls running throughout the year.

  • How are applications selected?

    Applicants are reviewed by the Machine Intelligence Garage programme team and are assessed only on the information provided in the application. Following first screening successful candidates will be invited to a video interview and/or demo. For further information, please see the selection criteria. Please note, applications are subject to additional terms and conditions from the programme’s partners.

  • I’m not ready to apply yet – can I apply and be considered at a later date?

    Machine Intelligence Garage runs multiple open calls a year, if you’re not ready to apply at the moment please register your interest and we’ll let you know when future applications are open.

  • What are the stages applications will go through?
    1. Interested parties register to apply for the programme
    2. An email is sent with the link to the full application form – applications must be completed by the closing date to be considered
    3. All applications are judged based on the selection criteria and a shortlist created
    4. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a video interview with the team to learn more about the company and solution
    5. Teams are selected to join and onboarded to the programme
  • What is the selection criteria used for applications?

    Applicants for Machine Intelligence Garage will be selected using the below criteria as well as partner terms and conditions.

    1. Business plan: The applicant has a well defined and viable product or service
    2. Early stage: Applicant company is an early or very early stage company
    3. Ethics: The company has assessed the ethical impacts of your solution
    4. Tech plan: A clear level of technical expertise, team and an implementation plan
    5. Data ready: The team has demonstrated the necessary data at hand ready to be used
    6. Immediate need: There is an immediate need to access computation power and artificial intelligence expertise

    Initial assessment is based solely on the information provided in the application. Considerations will also be given to the stage of development at which your company is, how the company intends to make use of data, data ethics, and potential impact of participation in the programme.

Applicant company requirements

Ethics

  • Why is ethical use of AI important?

    The responsible use of algorithms and data is paramount for the sustainable development of machine intelligence applications, as concluded by the recent House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee report. However, at present, there is a gap between theory and practice, between the ‘what’ of responsible AI and the ‘how’. There is demand from all sizes of organisation for help on defining and applying ethical standards in practice.

  • What does Machine Intelligence Garage do to support the ethical use of AI?

    Digital Catapult supports a number of activities to promote and ensure the ethical and sustainable use of AI. These activities began in the Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

    Digital Catapult’s Ethics Committee developed an ethics framework, tailored for use by startups, that is used to support the consultations that each company receives from ethics committee members. In addition, cohort startups can access longer-term consultations (called ‘deep dives’) and office hours with ethics committee members. The programme provides participants with a range of workshops and tools that centre on helping startups use data and run operations more ethically and responsibly, whilst embedding good practice within the company and product.

  • What is Digital Catapult’s ethics committee?

    At present, there is a gap between theory and practice, between the ‘what’ of responsible AI and the ‘how’. There is demand from all sizes of organisation for help on defining and applying ethical standards in practice.

    The Digital Catapult Ethics Committee, chaired by Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information & Digital Ethics Lab Director at University of Oxford, convenes some of the foremost minds in AI and data ethics to address this need. Launched in 2018, it comprises two elements: the Steering Board, who oversee the development of principles and tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice, and the Advisory Group, who work closely with startups developing their propositions through Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

    The Advisory Group’s collaboration with Machine Intelligence Garage startups ensures that the Committee’s work is tested and grounded in practice.

  • Why was the ethics committee set up?

    Digital Catapult Ethics Committee was launched in 2018, it acts as an independent body dedicated to realising responsible AI development in the UK.

  • Who is on the ethics committee?

    Chaired by Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information & Digital Ethics Lab Director at University of Oxford, the committee convenes some of the foremost minds in AI and data ethics to address the need for responsible and ethical use of AI. It comprises of two elements: the Steering Board, who oversee the development of principles and tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice, and the Advisory Group, who will closely with startups developing their through Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

    To see the latest committee, please click here to see all current members.

  • How can businesses get involved with the ethics work for Machine Intelligence Garage?

    AI startup companies can engage with the Ethics Committee by applying to join the Machine Intelligence Garage programme. As a programme participant you will have an ethics consultation within the first 3 months and you can apply to take part in a more comprehensive engagement (a ‘deep dive’).

    Larger organisations can ask to join our Industry Working Group. Please email us at appliedaiethics@digicatapult.org.uk if that is of interest.

    Participation in the programme is also an opportunity to influence the support offered and to ensure that the Committee’s work remains tested and grounded in practice.

  • What is the Ethics Framework?

    The Ethics Framework sets out key ethical considerations and underlying questions that provide a practical approach for startups, individual developers and experts to use in planning for and addressing the ethical challenges faced by their business, technology and ideas. The framework is used to support the consultations that Machine Intelligence Garage cohort startups receive from ethics committee members, but it is also perfectly possible (and encouraged) to use the framework independently.

    The Ethics Framework is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence and we encourage feedback via appliedaiethics@digicatapult.org.uk

  • How is the framework intended to be used?

    The Framework consists of seven concepts with a corresponding list of questions for each. The questions are intended to illuminate the many contexts in which that ethical concept might be relevant to a business or project. Not all questions will be relevant at all times, and many questions will not have an immediate or clear answer.

    Consult the framework around key milestones in a project. The right time to start thinking about the questions is at the earliest stages of company growth. Consider current, near and mid-future potential effects. The framework will help to characterise ethical opportunities and potential risks and to be open and clear both internally and externally about how these are evaluated and managed.

    Users can download a copy of the framework on the ethics framework page.

  • What are the seven principles of the ethics framework?

    1. Be clear about the benefits of the product or service
    2. Know and manage the risks
    3. Use data responsibly
    4. Be worthy of trust
    5. Promote diversity, equality and inclusion
    6. Be open and understandable in communications
    7. Consider the business model

    To view the full framework and principles please click here.

  • What other initiatives does Digital Catapult do in AI ethics?

    Digital Catapult operates an AI Ethics programme with a number of activities and outputs.

    This work includes the independent Ethics Committee, Industry Working Group, an Ethics Hub and published papers on the topic. To find out more about our work in ethics please visit the digicatapult.org.uk website

  • How was the ethics framework established?

    Digital Catapult’s Ethics Committee released its first iteration of the Ethics Framework in 2018 after a series of consultations.

    The Ethics Framework is used in the consultations between the Advisory Group (a subset of the Ethics Committee) members and Machine Intelligence Garage startups, and it is updated regularly as a result of this feedback loop.

    The Ethics Framework is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence and we encourage feedback via appliedaiethics@digicatapult.org.uk

  • What is the difference between the ethics steering board and advisory group?

    The steering board oversees the development of principles and tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice. The advisory group contributes to the supervisory role of the steering group while also participating in direct engagements with Machine Intelligence Garage cohorts.

  • What are the key activities of the ethics board advisory group?

    The advisory group contributes to the supervisory role of the steering group, however their main focus is to operationalise the work of the Ethics Committee through a range of ethics engagements with external organisations. Examples of such engagements include consultations, office hours, and deep dives with startups participating in Digital Catapult’s Machine Intelligence Garage programme.

    The advisory group’s collaboration with cohorts ensures that the committee’s work is tested and grounded in practice.

  • What are the key activities of the ethics board steering board?
    • The steering board oversees the development of principles and tools to facilitate responsible AI in practice.
    • Key activities of the steering board:
      Establish, maintain and, if needed, update the principles for the Committee’s work
    • Provide mentoring and advice for the operation of the ethics engagements
    • Review the delivery and efficacy of the engagements that are delivered in collaboration with the advisory group
    • Propose or advise on suggested programme improvement, extension or other initiatives.

Other

  • How is data securely delivered to Machine Intelligence Garage?

    Depending on the dataset size and quality of connection an encrypted VPN connection can be set up to allow the data to be uploaded to the machine securely or accept the data on an encrypted hard drive.

  • Who is Digital Catapult?

    Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation Centre, driving early adoption of technologies to make UK businesses more competitive and productive and grow the country’s economy.

    We connect large established companies, startup and scaleup businesses and researchers to discover new ways to solve big challenges in the manufacturing and creative industries. Through this collaboration, businesses are supported to develop the right technologies to solve problems, increase productivity and open up new markets faster.

    Digital Catapult provides physical and digital facilities for experimentation and testing that would otherwise not be accessible for smaller companies.

    As well as breaking down barriers to technology adoption for startups and scaleups, our work de-risks innovation for large enterprises and uncovers new commercial applications in immersive, future networks, and artificial intelligence technologies.

    For more info please visit www.digicatapult.org.uk

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