THE Awards 2020

Times Higher Education (THE) Award

Knowledge Exchange / Transfer Initiative of the Year

University of the West of Scotland has won a prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Award, also known as the 'Oscars of higher education', which are the biggest celebration in the UK HE calendar.
Artificial intelligence is already changing lives, but the University of the West of Scotland has shown that AI can also save lives. Working with the French electronics giant Thales, the university developed drones that are now being used by the Scottish police to find missing people at night in remote rural areas. Thanks to its advanced cameras and “deep learning” technology, the drone system can identify specific individuals who appear as a speck in the distance. The technology’s application follows a defence project that sought to help drones identify objects and people using night-vision video equipment to reduce loss of life from “friendly fire”. As a result of these two projects, the university has built a 20-strong international academic team that has since provided other AI-driven business solutions, such as remote emergency medicine services for the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service, smart street-lighting solutions for Romania and the leadership of two 20-partner European projects to develop 5G network management solutions to a value of £13.7 million.
In addition, the university is also leading a £4.6 million European-funded initiative to work with the UK’s National Air Traffic Services on drone-related projects. The judges applauded how the team had built on successive projects to demonstrate life-saving applications, commending the "growing stature of the academic team and their work to create AI-based business solutions".