The Tech Problem Solvers - Insider Media
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Can you give us an example of project you’re working on? We’re currently working on a project for a law firm using AI to look at the back catalogue of documents they have written which has allowed us to create automatic standard documents using their language and terminology with accurate regulatory text that they can then use for their clients. This has not only saved them time and effort but has provided significant return on investment also.
You have established an Innovation team within the business. What are they focused on? One project they are working on at the moment is looking at black-mould detection in social housing, something that’s been very much in the news of late. Working with a couple of social housing providers, and also in collaboration with a couple of universities, we’re taking some of the existing technology in this area and, using AI, predicting where black mould might occur – using this we can then assess what other measures can be introduced to prevent black mould from forming.
The team is also working to gain insights into how different properties might perform and behave. The social housing sector isn’t always very well supported in terms of technology, having lots of legacy systems and legacy data, but we’re working with them to solve this and other issues with them. The team is also working alongside a partner engineering firm on how robot dogs can be used in the construction industry to gather data.
We allocate an amount of money each year to work on these innovation projects, to develop ideas that help to solve clients’ problems. The real challenge for the team is getting tangible business problems that they can innovate around, so they do workshops with clients to find out what they may be able to help them with using AI which is offered free of charge to them.
How important is the North East heritage to the business? The North East is a blossoming tech hub which not only gives us an excellent talent pool to tap into but also a network which allows us to build industry peers for us to learn from. The tech scene in the North East is really exciting at the moment and we want to do a lot more in the region. We have a very strong manufacturing heritage and the business wouldn’t be where it is today without having this.
We’ve also had long-standing relationships with North East universities and these relationships have really helped us grow the business. We have a large graduate intake every year, and this is how we’ve grown the business historically and we want to continue with this, and to also further develop our apprenticeship intake. The North East is a friendly place to do business and we want to engender that friendliness into other places from which we operate. People build collaborative networks here and there’s a can-do attitude too and we want to bring these qualities elsewhere.