In honour of this year’s International Women’s Day and to kick off our Artificial Intelligence (AI) Month, sponsored by EIP, (a theme I’m particularly excited about), we thought what better way to celebrate than to shine a light on the fantastic women led AI businesses here in the South West!?

It’s safe to say that AI is having more than just a moment internationally. With generative AI finding its way into the mainstream, and more startups popping up with AI at their core, the technology is very much of the zeitgeist, catalysing conversations both inside and outside of the tech sector. 

This sudden rise is a breeding ground for a few issues. From ethics to inclusion, how we utilise AI is critical. One thing is for sure, the possibilities are endless, and we have some brilliant role models in the South West shaping the outcomes. Are you ready to meet them? 

Dext Precision

Dext Precision is a tool for accountants and bookkeepers to manage the health and quality of their clients’ data. Dext uses AI-assisted tools to check for common mistakes and errors. Using high-quality accurate data, the tool then provides deep performance analytics and advisory insights for practices to help their SME clients succeed.

Co-founder and Head of Design and Marketing, Helen Lloyd, says, “We know it takes a lot of sweat, and a lot of people, to make successful businesses. We also know that behind every brilliant small business is an equally brilliant, business minded accountant – someone who backs them, advises them and knows that business inside out. And backing them is Dext.”

Emm

Emm is bringing a first-of-its-kind biowearable menstrual cup to market that has the potential to revolutionise female health research and outcomes.

Founder Jennny Button explains, “We believe that everyone should be able to understand what is happening inside their body. The female body is a marvel, but it’s also a mystery. Less than 2.5% of publicly funded research is dedicated solely to reproductive health, but 1 in 3 women will suffer from a reproductive or gynaecological health problem. We are often left without answers as a result. The world needs new insight into the female body to enable better health outcomes.”

Emm uses sensing technology within a patent-pending, uniquely-engineered device for use during the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cup is able to monitor and analyse specific biometrics related to female health, empowering and informing the user through unique health insights and data. 

The data Emm captures – automatically syncing with its proprietary smartphone app – will provide a clear, accurate, record of any reproductive health irregularities or issues people may experience. This information will prove crucial in providing a comprehensive and data-led medical history, improving the path to diagnosis and treatment. 

FluoretiQ

FluoretiQ was founded by Josephine Dorh, CTO, and Neciah Dorh, CEO, to solve the £1.1bn problem of using broad-spectrum antibiotics as an alternative to accurate diagnosis of infection. Silicon Gorge alumni, they are building a family of complimentary diagnostic tools to critically improve the speed and quality of information available to every clinician.

Their two products are:

  • NANOPLEX®– an advance latex agglutination test that rapidly identifies and quantifies the cause of infection within 5 minutes. Their first product was a rapid point of care (POC) system for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) to enable Healthcare professionals to actively reduce broad-spectrum antibiotic use and hospitalisations within primary care.
  • SCFI™- is a phenotypic, real-time and growth-free antibiotic susceptibility test that determines the most effective antibiotic within 30 minutes.

Gapsquare

The World Economic Forum announced in 2019 that women would not be paid the same as men until the year 2277. This announcement inspired founder, Zara Nanu MBE, to create Gapsquare, the software that enables organisations to close their pay gaps.

Gapsquare empowers you to leverage continuous, trusted insights from your workforce data to achieve fair pay. Zara explains, “The pay equity and wider workplace social agenda is constantly evolving. From inception, Gapsquare identified that technical, data-driven solutions sit at the core of building a more equitable workplace. Today, the success of our clients is the success of our mission–building not only a more equitable future but also the business case for equality, in our lifetime.”

The tech tool has been backed by countless equality and diversity experts and last year, Gapsqaure consolidated its value as it was acquired by XpertHR. With Gapsquare, you can automate pay gap reporting, look at the impact of your pay reviews and develop equal pay audits saving hundreds of hours normally spent on analysis. Gapsquare strives to build a world where work is inclusive, where pay meets value and diverse talent thrives. She tells us that a core aspect of her mission when building the business was to use AI in order to create the world we want to live in. 

Grand Bequest

Grand Bequest is a property technology company using data analytics, conservation, and sustainability to promote the global redevelopment of vacant buildings. The organisation empowers individuals to contribute to, develop, or analyse adaptive reuse projects with our marketplace and AI-driven database that makes the process of sustainably reusing existing buildings easier and more accessible than ever before for communities around the world.

Founded by Dr Katherine Gunderson, the team is on an admirable mission to save vacant buildings from around the world. 

greyfly.ai

greyfly.ai was founded by Marcia Williams and Lloyd Skinner with the goal of transforming the field of project management through the development and implementation of AI. 

Initially grant funded, they built AI proof of concepts for the BBC, Civil Aviation Authority, Gleeds, and HS2. Then in 2021, to achieve this goal, the company launched the Intelligent Project Prediction (IPP) tool, which uses AI to provide executives with intelligence to increase project success. The tool is now providing high confident predictions and the rationale for project outcomes to retained customers.

The greyfly.ai team is made up of experts in project management, AI, machine learning, technical infrastructure, and delivery assurance, and is dedicated to helping companies navigate their AI in project management journey.

Gritty Talent

Gritty Talent creates scalable and smart solutions for the TV and film industry’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) problems. Creative talent is the lifeblood of the sector – you need the best minds to come up with ideas like Bridgerton or Strictly – and bring them to life. But the sector is not attracting the volume of talent it needs to produce its world-leading content, and it’s not attracting the breadth of talent that it needs to be truly representative of and relevant to its diverse global audiences.

Founder and CEO, Mel Rodrigues, adds “From my previous work at the BBC Academy and TEDxBristol, I learned that D&I work tends to be done via small grass-roots projects, and takes time to get results. I believe we’ll only be able to change the shape of the talent base with a more joined up and ambitious approach. So we’re building technology and services that do the talent connecting work in a much more consistent and scalable way.

“Our inclusive, smart technology connects emerging and diverse talent with decision-makers in TV and Film, via a seamless digital service.”

Included AI

Inclued AI provides digestible education for marketing teams, helping them build and embed inclusivity into their marketing strategy. 

With the increasing integration of AI in the content development process, your brand faces potential risks due to biases inherent in some AI models. Inclued AI, safeguards your brand by identifying these risks and suggesting inclusive amendments. This enables you to tailor campaigns that reflect the diversity of your target audience, thereby expanding your reach and boosting revenue.

As it stands, it would take 71 years to fill the race employment gap in advertising agencies. Founder Joyann Boyce is making steps to shorten this time with her tech. Inclued’s technology smartly helps marketers to connect with their audience by spotting and removing unconscious biases in digital content, as well as providing data, insight and educational resources to implement inclusive marketing. 

And the potential of this tech is being highly recognised as Joyann has won a stream of awards and grants, including the Innovate UK award last month. 

Kaedim

Kaedim is a deep tech startup that provides AI-driven tools for creating 3D assets for gaming and animation studios on demand. Spun out of the University of Bristol in 2020, Kaedim today supports over 250 companies, having captured the attention of big-name studios like Rebellion, makers of the Sniper Elite video game series and an early investor in the company, and Aardman Animations, the Bristol-based creators of Wallace and Gromit.

Co-founder Konstantina Psoma says, “At Kaedim, we are creating state-of-the-art AI solutions to streamline the process of 3D asset creation and enable greater creative expression for creators as well as more immersive digital worlds for consumers. Our human x AI approach revolutionizes 3D asset creation by blending human artistic intuition and critical judgment with AI’s efficiency and speed. This results in a production process that is faster, more cost-effective, and upholds the high quality standards for 3D games.”

By transforming 3D content creation into a scalable and sustainable pipeline, Kaedim aims to be the driving force behind the next generation of immersive and engaging gaming experiences.

OKKO Health

OKKO Health, founded in 2018, has developed a range of sight monitoring apps focussing on the monitoring of macular degeneration. Macular disease is the leading cause of sight loss in developed nations. It affects over 1.5 million people in the UK alone. OKKO’s apps provide patients with the ability to self-monitor their condition through a simple interactive smartphone game.

Played regularly, the game can inform clinicians, and patients, of changes in visual acuity, sensitivity to contrast, distortion, and colour vision. These data points become cues for clinical intervention. The funding supports the creation of new aggregate datasets, providing opportunities to better understand how to target treatments for macular degeneration through the deployment of AI in the form of machine learning algorithms. The ultimate aim is to make precision ophthalmology a reality, and protect sight.

OKKO believes that patients should spend quality time with doctors when they need it most (and safely avoid hospital when they don’t). Home-monitoring of vision between appointments will enable systems to deliver customised eye care and dynamic appointment schedules.

OWNI

OWNI, the Devon-based startup reimagining fashion resale, has launched its artificial intelligent digital wardrobe technology as part of its mission to change the way we buy and sell second-hand in a bid to reduce waste and move away from a fast fashion throwaway culture. 

This new web3 technology traces items as their ownership changes and involves brands in the resale market. OWNI offers a commercially profitable way for brands to manage their visibility in the second-hand market and share in the resale value in the form of a royalty when items they have originally produced are sold on. 

Founded by sustainable fashion entrepreneurs Kalkidan Legesse and Vidmantas Markevicius, OWNI is backed by Google, and secured £350,000 investment in 2022 from angel investors and VCs. 

Taught by Humans

Taught by Humans wants to ensure everyone – both businesses and individuals – are AI & data confident. This means having the skills, knowledge and confidence to be able to use these tools in their work, and if needed their own lives.

The company wants people to avoid scaremongering about AI replacing humans in their jobs, and instead wants to work with businesses to empower their humans to use their tools effectively. You can check out their awesome AI educational tools here.

Founder Laura Gemmell is driven by her passion about how technology, particularly AI, needs to work for everyone in society. A self-confessed data dork who exists at the intersection of tech and education, Laura brings a mix of industry, academic and teaching experience to her role at Taught by Humans.

WAVESIX

WAVESIX is an app that tracks six key aspects of your lifestyle. The product can give you powerful insights on what’s having a positive or negative impact on your health and happiness. It’s a tool that empowers you to take charge of your own wellbeing.

Julia Marshall-Wessendorf, the founder of WAVESIX, came up with the idea for the app after witnessing a need for it herself. After being diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) in 2011, Julia searched for a digital tool or app that she could use to record multiple aspects of her life but there was none. The available trackers all focused on one aspect only, e.g. sleep or fitness or mindfulness. She realised that a more holistic approach was needed; and she built one herself. 

WAVESIX tracks six essential areas of your life: sleep, nutrition, movement, relaxation, relationships and self. 

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.