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Meet the founders behind Data Innovation.AI
Data Innovation.AI co-founders Robert Walker (left) and Craig Fenton. Picture by Stewart Attwood
Data & AI

Meet the founders behind Data Innovation.AI 

What is your sector? Building management.

What is your solution? Data-driven simulations to reduce spread of infection through building design. 

When were you part of the Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Programme? February – July 2020.  

What are three words to describe your journey to date? Constantly adapting to change.  

Which DDE initiatives are you being supported by? The AI Accelerator.

Being a part of this entrepreneurial community suddenly takes you from a small company of two people to 15 organisations

Data Innovation.AI

What led you to setting up Data Innovation.AI?  

Robert: Craig and I met a decade ago, and at the beginning of lockdown we started talking about what we might be able to do that could be of use. From there, the idea for Data Innovation germinated as a way of combining our expertise in emerging techniques around data and smart building systems. What real-world challenge do you want to address?  

Craig: The idea for Data Innovation is straightforward. We want to reduce the spread of infectious diseases in buildings – including but not limited to Covid. From the outset of Covid, it was clear that aerosol transmission is major, but we lacked a solution. We saw this as our opportunity – to work out how we could combine an understanding of how Covid behaves and human movement inside buildings to inform businesses and building designers on how to reduce aerosol transmission of diseases. “ 

What role does data play in Data Innovation AI?  

Robert: We’re combining silos of data that have never been combined before – epidemiological data with human movement data.

Craig: Someone infected with a virus will breathe out hundreds of thousands of particles that stay in the air for hours. Our solution will track every single molecule as it moves around, creating huge volumes of data. And that’s where AI and machine learning come in, to understand how the particles function within that space.  

What motivates you as entrepreneurs?  

Robert: Feeling you can make a difference has always motivated us. It’s great to now apply that outside a big organisation and feel like we’re tackling, maybe even solving, real-world problems. What success have you seen so far?  

Craig: The first success was seeing an embryonic idea on a whiteboard, and working out how we’d get from this to a proof-of-concept, and then to a prototype. Also, gaining a place on the AI Accelerator was massive for us as it adds credibility to what we do. 

What role has the University of Edinburgh and the AI Accelerator played in your entrepreneurial journey?  

Robert: As a startup, you have to do everything on your own. The access to training and support on a one-to-one basis has been incredibly valuable to helping us work out how to do this and hone our business model.  

Craig: We’ve really benefited from the expertise of the cohort. Being a part of this entrepreneurial community suddenly takes you from a small company of two people to 15 organisations. 

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