Cross-sector consortium set to provide AI data-sharing 'generational breakthrough'

A new cross-sector consortium of businesses and universities is set to provide the key to the challenge of data access for regulated industries, through an artificial intelligence-powered platform.

The AIR Platform is a privacy preserving, data access and data collaboration tool that will deliver a "generational breakthrough" for how the private and public sectors operate and interact with each other locally and globally, according to Philip Treleaven, director UK Centre for Financial Computing at University College London (UCL).

Backed by government funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and private investment totalling £1.67 million, the platform is being developed in conjunction with project collaborators including the Financial Conduct Authority, two international banks, Ashurst, Oasis Loss Modelling Framework, Wilson Wright Accounting and Tax Practice, UCL and Loughborough University.

The project is being driven by RegTech firm RegulAItion, with chief executive Sally Sfeir-Tait explaining: “Our vision for the AIR Platform is to provide the digital infrastructure required for scalable, automated, repeatable and responsible data-access, supporting the fourth industrial revolution and the UK's leading position in it.

“We’re facing the perfect storm; there is simply more data in the world than we can handle - it is suffocating businesses, industries and regulators - equally, data silos mean organisations are unable to develop meaningful solutions, and privacy concerns such as GDPR and commercial interests stand in the way of delivering collaborative efforts to share knowledge from data."

The platform, and resulting project consortium, was borne out of a government innovation funding service competition held at the end of 2019 through UKRI.

Stephen Browning, challenge director for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Next-Generation Services, commented: “A common hurdle when trying to develop and apply AI solutions is accessing data, often across organisational boundaries.

"This is particularly true in regulated sectors such as legal, accountancy and insurance, where concern for the privacy of client data is paramount," he continued. "The AIR Platform project has the potential to overcome some of these issues and unlock the potential of applying AI to professional and financial services and I’m excited to see what this project can deliver in privacy enhancing data solutions.”

Treleaven added that the platform has the potential of doing for data what the internet did for communication. "We are creating ‘The DataNet’ and doing so from the bottom-up in collaboration with the regulators and service industries."

The AIR Platform is under development with commercial and collaborator use cases being developed concurrently to establish real-world return on investment. Full project delivery is scheduled for Innovate UK’s deadline of June 2021.

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