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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

AI for Good grantees announced

Seven pioneering projects will share a prize fund of £105,000 to champion the use of artificial intelligence to solve social issues in Scotland.

Ranging from using satellite data to protect Scotland’s wilderness to developing smart artificial limbs that can sense and handle objects, the projects are part of Nesta in Scotland’s AI for Good prize fund programme.

The programme aims to help demystify artificial intelligence (AI) and showcase some of the innovative work being done in Scotland to harness the potential of AI to improve people’s lives.

Adam Lang, Head of Nesta in Scotland, said: “When people think about AI they can often think of it as something negative from science fiction or dystopian stories.

“But AI has enormous potential to improve people’s lives in Scotland and address social issues from chronic health problems to how we deal with our climate emergency.

“At Nesta, we want to showcase some of the amazing work being done in Scotland right now to harness this powerful technology for social good and help to shift public perceptions of AI and how it can be used. The seven projects supported by this fund are excellent examples both of Scotland’s innovation ecosystem and of how AI can be used for real social good.

“As AI becomes more commonplace in our professional and social lives, it is important that we focus on how it will affect people and communities so we can ensure innovations positively address inequalities rather than exacerbate them and that new technologies are open and accessible.”

Scottish Governement Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Scotland is well-placed to harness the potential of Artificial Intelligence to benefit our economy, society and environment.

“It’s great to see this fund support a range of projects that will use Artificial Intelligence to make a positive difference for people and places, and I look forward to following their progress.”

Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, said: “The Artificial Intelligence landscape in Scotland, the UK, and across the world is incredibly exciting and inspiring, so to be working at the very heart of something so important, not only in shaping the future of business and the economy, but also in improving people’s lives for the better is extremely rewarding.

“Scotland is placing a focus on the transformational impact AI can have on our society, both socially and economically, and as an organisation, The Data Lab is absolutely committed to assisting Scotland’s people as well as industry and public sector to leverage data in new ways, fuelling innovation through collaboration, building skills and growing talent.”

The grantees for AI for Good holding a sign

The projects

The seven projects, which have each been awarded £15,000 from Nesta to help develop their work, are:

  • Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University using AI to address gender stereotypes in smart assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, which are predominantly modelled as young, submissive women, by designing and testing new personas and adapting the responses of conversational assistants.
  • A partnership between Edinburgh satellite firm Space Intelligence and the Scottish Wildlife Trust using AI to interpret large volumes of satellite data and map wildlife habitat to help restore, connect and protect Scotland’s natural environment.
  • A group from City of Glasgow College using AI to build speech profiles for regional Scottish accents to support adult learners using an adult literacy voice-recognition app.
  • Working with the University of Edinburgh and Datalab, housing and care organisation Blackwood is applying machine learning to smart energy meter data in its homes to monitor for changes in patterns of behaviour, such as not putting the kettle on as usual in the morning, and generating alerts so people can check-in on residents.
  • Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are using AI to develop a prosthetic limb that augments the user's abilities to control their limb, reducing some of the concentration and brain power required to conduct everyday tasks, such as gripping a pen or catching a ball.
  • Tech firm Red Star AI is working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes patients, predicting risk of hospitalisation and non-response to standard therapies, by using forms of AI called Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to analyse the discharge letters and clinical notes of 110,000 historic diabetes patients.
  • A partnership between tech company Voxsio, NHS Forth Valley and groups of young people from Stirlingshire is developing Allichat, an AI-powered chatbot for young people to discuss mental health issues. Allichat helps young people to start a conversation about their mental health and can personalise advice and help individuals better understand their own issues.


Grant Collinson

Grant Collinson

Grant Collinson

Communications and Engagement Manager, Nesta Scotland

Grant leads on the development and coordination of our communications activities in Scotland.

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Kyle Usher

Kyle Usher

Kyle Usher

Mission Manager (Scotland) - A Sustainable Future

Kyle was Nesta’s Mission Manager for Scotland working on the sustainable future mission and based with the Scotland team in Edinburgh.

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Jessica Clark

Jessica Clark

Jessica Clark

Programme Coordinator - HARP, Nesta Wales

Jessica worked with Y Lab.

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