Essex cements AI partnership with FM industry trailblazer

  • Date

    Wed 14 Aug 19

Cloudfm, a leading disruptive facilities management (FM) company, is joining forces with leading Essex artificial intelligence (AI) academics to drive change and revolutionise an industry that it believes has become stuck in the past.

Cloudfm has been awarded £195,000 as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) by the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to improve prediction and monitoring of estate assets of some of the world’s most recognisable brands.

According to Cloudfm the wider FM industry is generally accepted to be 20 years behind state-of-the-art technology, but the company is rapidly closing that gap – and thanks to this new AI and Internet of Things (IoT) partnership with Essex, the FM company will continue to lead from the front.

The KTP’s stated aim is to further reduce the downtime of equipment and improve FM analysis and monitoring for Cloudfm’s clients, which include PizzaExpress, KFC, Karen Millen and Tui, amongst others – continuing the positive trajectory by constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation.

PizzaExpress, one of the most popular casual-dining brands in the UK, is working in partnership with Cloudfm and Essex, to test and roll out advanced IoT solutions within its estate of restaurants in the UK.

“The Internet of Things offers the potential for truly transformative gains in business. The scope for organisations to simultaneously reduce costs, increase quality and control risk is tremendous – not for nothing have these technologies been identified as a key element of what some have called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Siobhan Fagan Group IT Director at PizzaExpress

Siobhan continues: “This initiative extends our long-standing partnership with Cloudfm, building on the company’s cutting-edge facilities management technology platform, to bring new efficiencies to this and other key processes in our business.”

Cloudfm has achieved recognition far beyond its client base. In April 2019, Cloudfm was presented with the Queen’s Award for Innovation. The firm was commended for its transformative technology-led solution, as well as its advanced systems and processes that benefit both clients and suppliers, while also improving service quality, cost control and public safety.

Cloudfm is unsurprisingly growing fast – having been founded in 2011, the firm now turns over in excess of £70m every year – and university partnerships with this kind of pioneering company is exactly what Innovate UK are looking to support, as they help fulfil the government commitment to invest 2.4% of GDP in UK Research and Development by 2027.

From left:  Hossein Anisi, Lecturer at Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Steve Corbett, CIO at Cloudfm, Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at Essex, Holly Leonard, KTP Manager at Essex and  Xiaozhan Yang, KTP Associate for Cloudfm.)
From left: Hossein Anisi, Lecturer at Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Steve Corbett, CIO at Cloudfm, Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at Essex, Holly Leonard, KTP Manager at Essex and Xiaozhan Yang, KTP Associate for Cloudfm.

As part of the KTP Essex will connect Cloudfm to four IoT and AI academics, most notably Dr Faiyaz Doctor and Dr Hossein Anisi from Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, to lead on the technology implementation.

Two full-time KTP Associates will also be recruited, to be based at Cloudfm’s offices, with a mandate to research cutting-edge AI and IoT technologies, working with Cloudfm’s technical teams to develop novel algorithms and pioneering intellectual property to the ultimate benefit of Cloudfm’s clients.

Dr Faiyaz Doctor, from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, said: “AI and IoT technology is a leading research area for academics across our Intelligent Connected Societies Group. Being able to apply our research methodologies to industry challenges, such as those presented by Cloudfm, offers our academic team exciting research potential and a route to achieving impact within the economy and broader society.”

The technology implemented in this KTP is just one way in which Cloudfm is disrupting FM norms. Founded specifically to fix the systemic problems in the industry - inadequate processes, poorly-applied technology and unreliable data, which all lead to inflated cost and unacceptable waste - the company has revolutionised the market with a totally new way of thinking about FM service provision. Through a focus on comprehensive verified data, controlled processes, and a commitment to doing the right thing, Cloudfm’s radically different partnership model – delivered through its advanced technology platform – enables costs to be controlled while simultaneously raising quality.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Essex. Environmental sustainability is at the heart of our innovation programme; delivering a solution that enables our clients to run smarter, more energy efficient buildings. Through intelligent, connected devices our clients can reduce waste, improve financial sustainability and minimise their carbon footprint.”
Steven Corbett CIO of Cloudfm

Essex is one of the top five universities in the UK for its number of Innovate UK-funded projects, and ranks as the leading university in the East of England and London for KTPs.

Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at Essex, said: “Our project with Cloudfm will not only disrupt facilities management, but also have positive ramifications for other outdated sectors including logistics and traditional manufacturing, and it perfectly aligns to our research strands across disciplines such as drone technology, AI and manufacturing 4.0.”

“Essex has developed an innovative way of working with businesses and other external partners, with our resulting KTP portfolio growth being cited as a contributing factor to Essex winning THE University of the Year 2018. We’re proud to be able to say that our approach has attracted companies like Cloudfm, Ocado, BT and Provide CIC to partner with Essex on a number of trailblazing projects.” 
Robert Walker Head of Business Engagement at the University of Essex

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are Innovate UK’s flagship mechanism for collaboration. They connect businesses and social enterprises across the UK with expertise, cutting-edge technology and research in our universities and link them up with ambitious graduate talent.