Canadian firm Scaled Insights picks Leeds as new global headquarters

The Nexus building at Leeds University. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
The Nexus building at Leeds University. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A Canadian firm that specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) has chosen Leeds as its new global headquarters.

Nationwide Building Society has announced that it is investing in Scaled Insights, a company that uses behavioural AI to analyse people’s speech to communicate with them in the most effective way.

The system analyses more than 130 different variables in an individual’s speech patterns, giving each a rating of between one and a hundred. The AI system is then able to generate an impression of each persons’ personality traits.

A spokesman for Nationwide said: “Scaled Insights is based in Canada but following Nationwide’s investment the headquarters will move to the Nexus building on Discovery Way in Leeds, a facility that supports start-ups. Nexus is owned by Leeds University.

“The facility aims to creative collaborative partnerships between entrepreneurs, businesses and world-leading researchers by creating a space where ideas, innovation and expertise come together.

“Nexus is a community of innovators located on the campus and based in the new £40m state-of-the-art building, providing easy access to the University of Leeds research and expertise.”

The investment is the latest deal from Britain’s biggest building society as part of a £50 million Venturing Fund designed to create partnerships in which start-ups share their knowledge and expertise.

As part of the fund, Nationwide is making strategic investments in and creating partnerships with early stage start-ups exploring innovative products and services that could provide benefits for the society’s members.

Stuart Sherman, CEO at Scaled Insights, said: “We’re very excited to have Nationwide join us as both an investor and partner. We believe that the next steps in ‘one to one’ communications will rely on computer systems understanding humans as individuals, and tailoring messaging and offers towards each person’s unique needs.

“As we apply our AI to new challenges we are proud to have a partner that is as concerned about the ethical use of our technology as we are; focused on improving peoples’ health and finances, while ensuring that the global trend towards increased organisational sizes doesn’t result in these larger organisations overlooking the humans they were created to serve.”

Mr Sherman said he chose Leeds as the firm’s global base because it had a strong commitment to innovation. He said Leeds resembled a “sophisticated supper club” when compared with other cities such as London.

He added: “The academics in Leeds are world class, they’re focused on innovation, and the university is certainly open for businesses.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council said: “It is fantastic to be able to welcome Scaled Insights into the heart of our city’s innovation district and this flourishing area of research and enterprise. The organisation are at the forefront of new tech and how this works for the benefit of society and we are delighted they will now form part of our strong and thriving digital sector.”

Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director, University of Leeds, said: “We’re thrilled to have such a progressive and innovative business joining the Nexus community. Scaled Insights is a perfect example of how collaborations between academia and businesses can translate into cutting-edge innovations that deliver real solutions. We look forward to seeing the outcomes from these impactful collaborations and to Scaled Insights continued success.”