Faculty, an artificial intelligence startup used by the successful Vote Leave campaign during Brexit, says it will add 400 new jobs in the coming years as it raises new cash and expands to the US.
Faculty bills itself as an "AI as a service" company that offers its tech to both governments and private businesses. It has raised £30 million ($42.4 million) from the Apax Digital Fund, part of a UK and US-focused venture capital firm.
CEO Marc Warner said the majority of the new jobs will be based in London, a hub for machine learning and AI specialists.
He added that there will be some new roles in the US, as the firm looks to expand its existing, small research and development team, sales and marketing, and eventually its delivery team. The firm will take a "phased approach" to adding new staff over the next few years, he said.
"The big expansion is likely to be in the US, ultimately it's going to be about bringing the same kinds of technology," he added.
Faculty has come in for scrutiny over its UK government ties
Faculty, founded in 2014, has proven controversial for its links to Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former chief advisor, and its work on the Brexit campaign in 2016. Warner's brother was brought into Downing Street under Cummings as a data scientist.
Faculty has also secured 14 government contracts, totalling a value of more than £3 million, according to the Guardian. Incidentally, the Guardian's investing arm GMG Ventures is an existing backer of Faculty.
"All the contracts are on public record, we work very hard to go through the public procurement process," Warner told Insider. "All of our work has been won very legitimately."
He added that the company's work with the UK government had started before Johnson had been elected, saying its first linkup was with the Home Office under his predecessor Theresa May.
"We genuinely think it's important to work with governments and private companies and educational institutes and health systems to make this technology accessible beyond a small number of tech companies, mostly on the West coast of the US," he said.
Throughout the pandemic, the startup built a forecasting system for Britain's NHS to predict the number of cases in a hospital over a three week period. Warner said it was crucial to give hospitals confidence as to when they could start to reopen active care in certain locations as cases started to plummet.
While much of Faculty's work is kept private, Warner also explained how the company's tech had been used by a train operator to identify where vegetation had been growing onto the tracks. Such vegetation can be dangerous and damaging to trains but Faculty equipped cameras to the trains to measure what areas of the tracks trees were growing onto. Warner said it was "big important problem" that had been alleviated by the company's AI.
The company has also agreed deals with the National Crime Agency, Virgin Media, and Moonpig among others.
Warner said that building AI systems that were worthy of trust was the company's main goal. He said there was an "incredible upside" to the widespread use of AI.
"AI isn't magic after all, it's just another application of math to understanding reality," he said.
"We cannot let the upside disappear by being too frightened, but we cannot be naive … just like we demand a safe bridge, it's no different."