Bank of Ireland, Akara and Webio among companies honoured at AI Awards

Annual awards are now in fourth year

Bank of Ireland, Akara Robotics and Webio are among the companies that have been recognised at the annual AI Awards.

Bank of Ireland won best application of AI in a large enterprise, while Kinesense took home the award for best use of AI in an SME for its AI-centric research project, the Visual Intelligence Search Platform (VISP).

In the start-up sector, SeamlessCare was named winner for the AI application Empathic, which helps non-verbal people and people with communication difficulties to communicate by interpreting short recordings of non-verbal vocalisations.

The awards, which are designed to recognise excellence in the artificial intelligence field across a diverse range of sectors, are in their fourth year. Held by AI Ireland in partnership with Microsoft, they support the growth and development of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in Ireland.


UCD’s AI Premie was named best application of AI to achieve social good, which combines AI with patented biomarkers and clinical expertise to help diagnose pre-eclampsia and predict the patient’s future outcome. The project also took home the award for best application of AI in an academic research body.

“It’s been fantastic to witness the breadth and depth of the AI Award’s winners today,” said Mark Kelly, founder of AI Ireland. “As the world undergoes seismic change, the sheer breadth of AI and Machine Learning, research, development and implementation across private, public and academic organisations is exciting and shows how AI can help us embrace change and avail of massive opportunities in this new reality.”

Trinity College spin-out Akara Robotoics took the award for the best application of AI in healthcare. The company has developed a clinical grade, fully autonomous UV disinfection robot, dubbed Violet. The robot uses advanced sensing and AI abilities to navigate complex hospital environments.

This year also saw the introduction of four new categories for responsible use of ethics within AI, women in AI, role model of the year and AI person of the year.

Soapbox Labs’ Dr Amelia Kelly was named AI person of the year, while Janssen’s Terri O’Donovan took home the award for women in AI person of the year, and ESB’s Kevin Quinlan was named young AI role model of the year. Best application of AI in a student project went to PhD student Eoin Delaney, of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics & VistaMilk SFI Research Centre in UCD, for his research on how black-box AI models can be explained to developers and end-users using counterfactual explanations.

Webio went home with two awards for their conversational AI engine, winning best use of AI in a consumer/customer service application, and best use of responsible AI and ethics

“At Microsoft, we know that technology can and should be a force for good, which is why it’s wonderful to see the introduction of four new categories for responsible use of ethics, showcasing Ireland’s commitment to the trustworthy use of new digital solutions,” said Microsoft Ireland general manager Anne Sheehan. “Innovation through AI technology can make such a positive impact across many different sectors, from education and research to finance and health, as well as addressing some of the bigger challenges we are facing as a society. The AI Awards are key to harnessing this and recognising Irish talent and we want to congratulate all their winners for their exciting innovation in AI.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist