Friday, 18th September 2020

Cross-sector consortium deliver data access platform

Innovate UK supported AIR Platform (Automated Intelligent Regulation) will be a ‘generational breakthrough’ privacy preserving data access and data collaboration platform for regulated industries.

A new cross-sector consortium of major businesses and universities is set to provide the key to the suffocating challenge of data access for regulated industries through a Responsible AI powered industry-agnostic platform; the AIR Platform.

Led by RegTech company RegulAItion, the AIR Platform is a privacy preserving, data access and data collaboration that will deliver a ‘generational breakthrough’ to how the private and public sectors operate and interact with each other locally and globally. Dubbed ‘The DataNet’ by Professor Philip Treleaven of University College London, the infrastructure has the potential to “do for data what the Internet did for communication”.

Backed by Government funding from Innovate UK and private investment totalling £1.67 million, the AIR Platform is being developed in conjunction with project collaborators including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), two international banks, Ashurst, Oasis Loss Modelling Framework, Wilson Wright Accounting and Tax Practice, University College London (UCL) and Loughborough University.

RegulAItion’s CEO, Sally Sfeir-Tait commented, “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.”

She went on to explain, “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.

“Tackling these challenges as individual businesses or sectors is not only prohibitive but also limiting in terms of what can be achieved that is of real value. However, a collaborative, sector-agnostic approach driven by artificial intelligence, machine learning and other analytical technologies can work. The AIR Platform will be that generational breakthrough.”

The AIR Platform, and resulting project consortium, was borne out of a government innovation funding service competition held at the end of 2019 through Innovate UK. Focused on enhancing the UK’s pre-eminent position in the service industries sector, the best minds from the business and technology worlds were brought together to debate and explore solutions to some of the biggest data challenges being faced today and develop the next generation services.

Stephen Browning, Challenge Director, 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. 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.”

Regulated industries particularly are facing unprecedented challenges on a global scale, ranging from the impact of climate change to the detection and prevention of financial crimes. As a result, cross-industry proprietary data collaboration has been identified as critical by the UK Government for major security, service and product advances.

Regulators view data breakthroughs using AI and privacy enhancing technologies as fundamental to progress; technologies that facilitate the sharing of information whilst remaining compliant with data security laws. The AIR Platform can help financial institutions make data accessible across organisational and jurisdictional borders thereby materially changing the dial in fraud and financial crime detection and prevention.

Illustrating the breadth and scale of the issue, the Bank of England recently warned the financial sector that it risks losses from extreme weather and investments in polluting firms stating that as much as $20 trillion of assets could be wiped out if climate change is not effectively addressed. In terms of financial crime, The United Nations estimates that $1.6 trillion is laundered through the global financial system each year, with the UK alone accounting for $90 billion of this total.

The Innovate UK backed consortium is partnered by the academic powerhouses of UCL and Institute for Digital Technologies at Loughborough University’s London campus.

“The AIR 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,” stated Professor Philip Treleaven, Director UK Centre for Financial Computing, UCL.

Professor Treleaven went on to explain, “To thrive, the UK economy needs a new generation of agile data driven businesses. The AIR Platform has the technology stack to preserve security, privacy, regulatory and commercial protections in an automated way; it will break down barriers, allow true collaboration and drive economic innovation.”

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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