Pioneering AI work sees graduate win Future Leader award

  • Date

    Mon 27 Sep 21

A University of Essex graduate has won a prestigious “Future Leader” honour for his ground-breaking business work on artificial intelligence. James Madge secured the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Best of the Best Award last week for his innovations with alternative asset company Preqin.

James has worked closely with the London-based company and the university to “turbo charge” the information available to its clients as well as identifying new areas for academic research.

As well as his individual excellence the relationship between the University of Essex and Preqin was awarded the highest possible rating of “outstanding” by funder Innovate UK for the work to embed AI and machine learning into platforms for investors and fund managers.

The Colchester resident, 29, who achieved a Masters in Artificial Intelligence in 2018 has been supported by a specialist team at the University of Essex who are also celebrating his success.

James, who now has a full-time job at the company as VP Data Scientist, said: “Winning a Future Leaders Award at the KTP Awards is a great personal achievement for me, which underlines the impact I managed to achieve during the three years of the project.

“The award reflects Preqin’s commitment to KTP, including their openness to new ideas and innovation, as well as their commitment to developing individuals.

“The University of Essex supported me every step of the way along my KTP journey.

“The academic team provided technical and non-technical project support during regular online and in-person meetings; their advice was invaluable to my decision-making process.

“The University of Essex has a passionate KTP team, who were always on hand to guide on all KTP matters outside of the project.

“I’d like to thank my academic supervisors Dr.Michael Fairbank and Dr.Spyros Samothrakis, and the KTP team at the University of Essex for their support throughout the project."

James also urged anyone considering a KTP to work with The University of Essex and develop their career.

“The KTP accelerated my career through mentoring from leading academics and industry professionals, access to training resources, as well as the experience of leading a challenging project from inception to conclusion,” he said.

“The KTP role provided a smooth transition into industry after the completion of my MSc Artificial Intelligence degree at the University of Essex.

“To anyone considering taking part in the KTP program, do it. It is a stimulating, enlightening, and rewarding experience that opens doors, especially in terms of networking and personal development.”

He saw off a packed field at the event to bring home the Future Leader honour and his trailblazing work has incredibly seen Preqin expand its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme.

KTPs connect businesses that have an innovation idea with the expertise to help deliver it.

The University of Essex has 38 KTPs across eight academic departments and the portfolio is worth £9million.

Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement, at the University of Essex said: “From the moment I met the team at Preqin it was clear they ‘got’ collaboration and were hungry to partner with an organisation with similar energy and ambition to themselves.

“This KTP really helped Preqin to not only develop AI products to meet growing demands from clients in the alternative asset space, but start them on a research and development journey which is growing and flourishing right now.

“The firm now has a clear innovation mindset. They have already embarked on a second KTP embedding network science and knowledge graph technology having just received the highest score possible from Innovate UK for their first project, which is testament to how well it went.

“A KTP relies so heavily on the people, and the Academic team alongside an incredible Associate in James Madge have really set the blueprint for collaboration and effective partnerships.

“I really am so proud of James for winning this award and I am excited to see how his career develops as a Future Leader.”