Innovative software company Gliff.ai is planning for significant growth in 2021 after using the months of lockdown to review the direction of the business.

    The Salvus House-based company, which develops world-class artificial intelligence for the medical, environmental and industrial sectors, already employs 10 people after being launched as a spin-out from Durham University in 2018.

    Managing director Bill Shepherd believes the company is ideally positioned to establish itself at the ‘cutting edge of technology’, and has outlined plans to double, possibly treble, its headcount in 2021 after recently securing its first clients –  a large multi-national.

    Bill, who runs the business with fellow director Chas Nelson and academic Prof Boguslaw Obara, said: “Like many businesses the coronavirus pandemic hit us hard, and we had to adapt the way we worked. We were unable to work with the NHS to develop our own Artificial Intelligence as they were naturally busy, which was of course frustrating for us, but equally gave us the chance to properly review our business and where we wanted to take it.

    “Now we are looking ahead and although we’re still a long way from being clear of the virus, we are very positive about our future and are already working on some game-changing pieces of kit which could revolutionise the medical profession.

    “One such product we’re working on is a model that could develop artificial intelligence for ophthalmology – it would take the data already available at places like the Sunderland Eye Infirmary and develop solutions that help the patients undergoing treatments.

    “This is key – we know that developing artificial intelligence that can replicate the role of a doctor is possible, however turning this into a real product is much harder, and that’s what we’re looking at.”

    Since launching, Gliff.ai has benefited from two rounds of funding from Northern Accelerator and Innovate UK, totalling £800,000, and extensive support from Business Durham both in terms of their office space and signposting.

    Bill added: “Business Durham has been so supportive from day one. They offered us hot-desking space at Salvus House when we first set up and then helped us relocate back to Salvus House into our own office space when we outgrew the incubator space we occupied at the Atom Bank Rivergreen Centre.

    “They’ve also been incredibly helpful signposting us to different packages of support which we have been lucky enough to tap into to support our growth.

    “I really do think we’re incredibly lucky here in the North East. There’s so much support available to help companies grow and the quality of life here is second to none.

    “I also fully believe that the region, and in particular County Durham, is establishing itself as a global leader in innovation and manufacturing, putting our area on the map for all of the right reasons.”

    Sarah Slaven, Managing Director at Business Durham said: “Gliff.ai has the potential to evolve into a  global business in artificial intelligence, we’re proud that they chosen to locate in County Durham. The company are a shining example that showcases how diverse and innovative the business landscape of our region is. Part of our role as the economic development arm of Durham County Council is to direct businesses to the most relevant and beneficial support available to them, it’s great to see that some of that advice has been valuable to Gliff.ai on their journey so far and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

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