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Edge Hill to use artificial intelligence to improve online education business

Computer Science academics at Edge Hill University have secured over £200,000 in government-backed funding to dramatically scale-up a national education and training provider.

The University’s SME Productivity and Innovation Centre (SME PIC) has partnered with Sefton-based business The Progress Group, an education provider who offers Alternative Provision via their subsidiary, Progress Schools.

The grant will be used to develop a cutting-edge, intuitive smart learning platform which, through Artificial Intelligence (AI), will allow the provider to tailor its delivery to each specific student by understanding their current attainment levels and learning style, before developing a learning plan that is bespoke to them.

This ground-breaking platform will dramatically enhance the quality and education delivered by the provider, who supports some of the most vulnerable young people in society to achieve their potential.

The partnership is being supported by a £200,639 joint funding grant from Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and The Progress Group (TPG) programme.

Professor in Computer Science Marcello Trovati and project lead said: “We are excited to initiate this project with The Progress Group, which will advance innovation in intelligent education platforms. Our teams will work to integrate novel AI techniques, methods, and frameworks to turn data into insights and actional information.”

Sumita Chopra, The Progress Group’s Transformation and Innovation Director, first began working with the University in 2022 through the SME PIC’s Rapid Innovation Sprint Programme, which helps businesses grow at pace. The new KTP programme is a continuation of the scale-up strategy developed during the programme.

Sumita said: “The Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Edge Hill is vital for the Education sector to provide education and training for digital natives, and deliver learning fit for the 5th industrial revolution, whilst supporting the strategic growth of our business. Through the KTP, we aim to develop a platform which facilitates a personalised educational experience for students attending Alternative Provision. Alongside new areas of technological innovation, the KTP will provide the opportunity for us to acquire new capabilities, create highly skilled jobs in the region and serve the education sector with pioneering products and services.”

The partnership will employ a new computer science graduate-level Associate who will work for The Progress Group during the 33-month project. The successful applicant will play an integral part in the partnership and will be directly involved in helping to develop new education pathways for The Progress Group.

Director of the SME PIC Professor Simon Bolton said: “We are delighted to continue to support The Progress Group with their scale-up strategy through the KTP programme. The grant will embed new areas of technical innovation, create highly skilled jobs and open new routes to market. Valuable insights from the project will also inform the University’s research and teaching priorities.”

More information about Edge Hill University’s sector-leading SME PIC can be found on its webpage.