Vote Leave AI firm Fac­ulty wins lat­est state con­tract to map Covid hit on busi­nesses

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Boland

AN AR­TI­FI­CIAL in­tel­li­gence firm that was hired for the Vote Leave cam­paign has been handed yet an­other gov­ern­ment con­tract to help steer Bri­tain’s Covid-19 re­sponse, fol­low­ing a slew of awards ear­lier this year.

Fac­ulty Sci­ence has been cho­sen by the Depart­ment for Business, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy (BEIS) to use ma­chine learn­ing to fore­cast the hit to busi­nesses from coro­n­avirus.

Un­der the con­tract, which is worth £120,000, Fac­ulty has pro­posed its data sci­en­tists work “di­rectly along­side”

BEIS for the next three to six months. The con­tract said the team would cre­ate in­ter­ac­tive dash­boards show­ing how pol­icy de­ci­sions were af­fect­ing busi­nesses and could hit com­pa­nies in fu­ture. The dash­boards will be used to shape the Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the virus. The award comes two months af­ter The Daily Tele­graph re­vealed Fac­ulty had won a con­tract with Robert Jen­rick’s Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment to mon­i­tor the public’s so­cial me­dia to un­der­stand how they were re­spond­ing to Covid-19.

Its tools had pre­vi­ously been used by the Home Of­fice to spot ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity and for polling anal­y­sis by the Vote Leave cam­paign, run by Boris John­son’s ad­viser Do­minic Cum­mings.

A spokesman for Fac­ulty said: “All of Fac­ulty’s con­tracts with the Gov­ern­ment are won through the proper pro­cesses, in line with pro­cure­ment rules.”

Robert Jen­rick, the Hous­ing Min­is­ter, also handed Fac­ulty a con­tract to mon­i­tor the public’s re­sponse to the Covid-19 cri­sis

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