SAFEGUARDING businesses against reputational damage is the focus of a new partnership between leading online due diligence company Neotas and artificial intelligence (AI) experts at the University of Essex.
Neotas was awarded almost £200,000 as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. The project will help analyse an individual or company’s digital footprint and provide end-users with advanced insight without invading privacy.
Online screening is essential in many industries, whether to comply with legislation, in banking for example, or to safeguard against reputational damage. Many companies carry out simple web searches that either miss critical content or misidentify it and therefore potentially create unconscious bias in their searches.
The KTP between Essex and Neotas will continue to revolutionise the due diligence industry and provide greater availability and insight of advanced screening solutions to help mitigate risk in an era where levels of data are becoming unmanageable without sophisticated techniques.
There are over three billion social media users globally, publishing and posting content every day. By developing an advanced contextual analysis platform through the KTP, the process of screening for reputational risks will become less labour-intensive and will keep Neotas at the forefront of the field.
Vipul Mishra, CEO at Neotas, said: “For Neotas, the KTP is our first opportunity to collaborate with a university and we are delighted to be working alongside sector-leading academics working in fields highly complementary to the company’s business direction. We have been building and developing our proprietary technology for almost three years. To work alongside the renowned AI researchers at the University of Essex to continue to revolutionise the due diligence space is an exciting development in our roadmap.”
Internationally recognised natural language processing expert Professor Ansgar Scherp, from Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, will be the academic lead. He will work alongside a newly recruited data scientist with a natural language processing specialism who will work as a KTP associate based at Neotas to lead on the implementation of the technology developed through the project.
Professor Ansgar Scherp said: “The KTP with Neotas will focus on the utilisation of a novel combination of natural language processing and image analysis to accelerate and automate the collection of open source intelligence, providing end users with advanced insight into individuals without invading individual privacy.”
Professor Scherp added: “Helping Neotas grow their business at the forefront of this developing market, gives us the opportunity to apply our research methodologies to industry challenges and offer our academic team exciting research potential.”
Neotas works with over 60 clients, primarily across the financial sector and sectors where reputational risk management and enhanced screening is paramount. The developments from the KTP will be integrated with this team to drive the creation of new products that service the market in light of the changing global regulatory landscape.
At the beginning of this year, Neotas was selected out of almost 300 global start-ups to join a cohort of 20 companies on the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab 2019. The intensive accelerator programme, supported by 35 financial services companies, enabled Neotas to connect with the industry’s most senior banking and insurance executives, driving both scalability and innovation.
The University of Essex is top three in the UK for the number of Innovate UK funded KTP projects, which ranks them as the leading university in the East of England and London for KTPs.
Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at the University of Essex, said: “The range and breadth of industrial research opportunities which seek to utilise our AI expertise continues to grow. The project with Neotas epitomises this and underpins a longer-term partnership with the company across multiple levels, from exploring opportunities within our newly launched Innovation Centre to supporting our students.”
Robert added: “Rapidly growing, research hungry and innovative organisations such as Neotas are exactly the type of ambitious companies we strive to support and our team is excited by the prospect of this long-term collaboration.”
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are Innovate UK’s flagship mechanism for collaboration. They connect businesses and social enterprises across the UK with expertise, cutting-edge technology and research in our universities and link them up with ambitious graduate talent.