Innovate UK backs AI archaeological site detection tech

Archaeological site detection image from ArchAI
Image courtesy of Dr Iris Kramer and ArchAI

Innovate UK has backed the founder of an archaeological site detection AI start-up.

ArchAI was founded by Dr Iris Kramer three years ago, and she has been named as one of 50 women entrepreneurs in Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation 2022/23 programme.

Dr Kramer will benefit from a bespoke business boosting support package between April 2023 and March 2024. The support includes a cash injection of £50,000, tailored business coaching, mentoring and a wealth of networking, role modelling and training opportunities designed to help entrepreneurs grow their innovation further.

Dr Kramer Iris has a PhD along with a background in archaeology, coding and machine learning. She founded ArchAI in 2020 after realising that a career as an academic would not achieve her goal of creating a potentially global AI detection system fast enough.

ArchAI combines AI, LiDAR, satellite imagery, and historic maps to automatically detect undiscovered archaeology at potential construction sites. This desk-based solution “significantly reduces time, cost and risk compared to current methods, as well as helping to preserve historical sites for the future”, according to Innovate UK.

Dr Kramer explained: “We automate the assessment of archaeological sites required by environmental impact assessments during the planning permission application process for construction projects within Europe. Our pre-trained AI models can assess thousands of images instantly, providing rapid, accurate feedback to developers and project planners.”

Proven capability

She proved the value of her new technology by conducting a case study in the Isle of Arran, where the AI found 200 new potential sites, of which more than 130 were verified as true sites by Historic Environment Scotland experts. This was enough to attract the company’s first paying customers, including the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.

Dr Kramer said: “I’m honoured to be selected for the Innovate UK Award and look forward to learning from other inspiring women as well as further developing my skills, scaling my business and hiring more staff.”

The Women in Innovation programme saw a record high number of applications, with more than 900 women applying.

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