AI/Machine Learning

The National AI Centre’s first startup sprint backs the best in tax, NDIS and making better decisions

- June 25, 2024 2 MIN READ
The AI Sprint winners: Dragonfly Thinking's Nick Lothian & Prof Anthea Roberts (1st), Empathetic AI's Angela Shi (3rd) and Kindship's Summer Petrosius (2nd).
Dragonfly Thinking, a startup spun out of Australian National University (ANU) using AI to make it easier to think about difficult business and policy problems in an inclusive and intuitive way, has won the inaugural AI Sprint by the National AI Centre.

In a sign of how vibrant the nation’s startup sector is when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), more than 190 early-stage startups applied to be part of the program, a collaboration between National AI Centre (NAIC), naitonal science agency CSIRO, startup hub Stone & Chalk, and Google Cloud.

The judging process saw them whittled down to top 35 and then 10 finalists who pitched at a Demo Day in Sydney following the 10-week intensive course offering expert guidance, infrastructure and connections  to help the founders involved launch AI-powered solutions with economic and social benefits.

Dragonfly Thinking received $300,000 worth of research and development support from a leading Australian research institution and facilitation services from CSIRO’s SME Connect, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners,  Kindship an NDIS guidance system, and Empathetic AI a tax co-pilot, both received $100,000 worth of support.   

They also scored a range of support services from Stone & Chalk to help them secure the essential capital, customers, expertise and talent.NAIC Director Stela Solar said the three winners demonstrated remarkable potential to solve a critical market need.  
“They were chosen for their ability to scale an innovative, responsible, and competitive AI business in today’s market,” she said.  
“They all have exceptionally bright futures ahead of them, and we’re proud to have provided the opportunity to help them transform their AI concepts into real-world impact.”

Dragonfly Thinking’s Nick Lothian and Anthea Roberts and NAIC director Stela Solar

Dragonfly Thinking was founded by Professors Anthea Roberts and Miranda Forsyth as an AI tool to analyse problems from different angles to provide users with clear insights to enhance decision-making.

Kindship’s NDIS navigator Barb is an AI-powered personal assistant providing 24/7 guidance and support on the NDIS, offering instant advice on budgeting, provider selection, and therapy options. Founder Summer Petrosius was inspired by her own journey with undiagnosed autism to develop Barb for support and advocacy for individuals and caregivers.  

Empathetic AI‘s tax co-pilot Luna launches this week and will provide scenario analysis, real-time ATO private ruling updates, and automated legislation reference checks. Cofounder and CEO Angela Shi was a 2023 finalist of the Australian Ambassador’s Award for Women in Leadership and her vision of integrating humanity into digital technologies led her to co-found Empathetic AI in 2023. 

Stone & Chalk CEO Chris Kirk, said the AI Sprint demonstrated Australia’s commitment to nurturing a thriving and successful AI industry.

The AI Sprint has been an incredible initiative that will undoubtedly propel Australia’s AI ecosystem forward,” he said.

“By bringing together the brightest minds, innovative ideas and cutting-edge resources, we have fostered an environment ripe for groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence.” 

The demo day also featured a People’s Choice award voted on by more than 200 people in the room along with 600 watching online. The winner was data analytics startup InsightWise.

Other startups in the top 10 included a public sentiment tracker for affordability, a scam detection tool for digital communications, an AI-integrated downlight and smoke alarm system, and non-wearable monitoring system to aid elderly independence and a generative AI platform for creative artists.  

Stone & Chalk CEO Chris Kirk with People’s Choice winners Matthew Bailey & Katherine Larish from InsightWise, NAIC director Stela Solar and Michael Langford, head of VC & dtartup ecosystem at Google Cloud

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