Catalyst 2017 Profile: Filament

In the autumn, we welcomed eight new businesses to Catalyst, Southampton Science Park’s incubator for early stage companies with high potential. Today we catch up with Filament.

Technical Client Services Lead and Southampton Office Manager Andy Feltham, tells us more about the artificial intelligence and machine learning consultancy founded by Doug Ayres and Phil Westcott.


Andy, what are you creating? We’re working to help companies understand and capture their expertise, unique data sources and intellectual property with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Using reusable machine learning models, we can give companies an edge over their competitors by ‘bottling’ their intellectual property from data and turning it into a unique asset.


Who will benefit? Any large organisation with data that they are not exploiting will benefit. Our key target customer is one that has an understanding about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning but not the tooling or understanding to take their ideas forward. We are already working with customers across a wide range of industries.


Why is this important? There has been an explosion of data. It is estimated that the volume of data doubles every two years and in particular this relates to the category of ‘unstructured data’ like emails, webpages and documents – these comprise 90% of all digital information globally. Inside all of this information is insight which can be hugely valuable and differentiating yet most businesses lack the technical skills or innovation structures to extract it and monetise it.


How does it work? Our team of ex-IBM Watson artificial intelligence specialists and digital agency practitioners will offer consultancy, education and implementation services for clients. We have also created a tooling platform to help clients build their own machine learning assets, simplifying the process of companies capturing their own intellectual property.


What stage is the business at? Filament was set up just under two years ago. We have a team of 18 already and an office in London where a lot of the consultancy work is undertaken. The main business is still growing but we have already worked with clients such as T-Mobile, Amex, Accenture, Cohn & Wolfe and Hiscox to develop our core technology.


And what’s next? Participation in Catalyst is going to allow us dedicated time to accelerate the adoption of our technology with clients and add the features that it needs. At the end of the incubation programme we hope to see our core tooling platform available for public use, ideally by some significant clients.


A key concern for us is getting it right first time. Often you have one chance to get it right before businesses turn to other solutions so we are looking to develop partnerships with businesses willing to work with us on Beta releases to make sure our solution has all the capabilities it needs in terms of features, pricing and design. 


How did you feel when you were informed that you were successful in gaining entry to Catalyst? I think it was a mixture of excitement and a reality check. It’s certainly great to be part of this mentoring community with so many experienced individuals around, but there was certainly a serious side to the decision in so much as it actually kicked off the process to make our offering a reality. It is the first time that we’ve been able to devote specific time and resource to implementing our business plan.


And how is it going so far? The experience has been really positive so far. It’s very evident that there is a lot of experience in those running the Catalyst programme and they ask all the right things to get you thinking about how to give your business the best possible start. We are really grateful to be part of it and I’m sure we’ll benefit a lot as a result. 


Where can we find out more?