AI + industry collaborations bring award-winning success

South Australia’s capacity to lead innovation in AI and machine learning has been recognised at the 2021 SA Science and Innovation Excellence Awards, with a team at the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) winning the category of Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration at the awards ceremony late last month.

AIML’s industry solutions team is composed of machine learning experts and business development specialists who work collaboratively with local small-to-medium enterprises to help them get the most from their business data and realise the commercial opportunities that machine learning technology offers.

Since 2018 the team has helped 21 local SMEs integrate and adopt machine learning for product and business capability development and supported businesses in developing 13 new AI-enabled products, creating new jobs and upskilling staff in the process.

One such collaboration, with Adelaide visual effects company Rising Sun Pictures (RSP), translated into $1m in increased revenue, with an additional $3m anticipated over the next year. RSP’s managing director Tony Clark says that AI technology is a key component in remaining globally competitive.

martial arts fight scene from Marvel movie Shang Chi

AIML worked with Rising Sun Pictures to build new machine learning VFX techniques for Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

“Collaborating with AIML has enabled us to do what we have never been able to do before, and proves to global studio executives RSP is among the best in the world at embracing and implementing advancements in technology such as AI,” Mr Clark said.

AIML worked with RSP’s creative team to build novel machine learning techniques to replace a stunt performer’s face with the actor’s during martial arts fight scenes in Marvel Studios’ recent blockbuster, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

“These results would not have been achievable 12 months ago without huge cost to both RSP and its clients,” Mr Clark said.

AIML's director, Professor Simon Lucey, speaks about what artificial intelligence and machine learning can mean for South Australian small-to-medium businesses. Video: Department for Innovation and Skills

AIML also worked with Pickstar, an Adelaide start-up that allows customers to book sportspeople and athletes as brand ambassadors and guest speakers. By working with AIML, Pickstar has been able to use machine learning to underpin the platform’s recommendation engine and capitalise on their business data.

Pickstar CEO and founder James Begley recognises the importance of analytics in delivering successful bookings, with the company expanding internationally over the duration of its partnership with AIML.

“We’ve grown from a staff of 9 to 35+ across AU, UK and USA. We are now exporting our technology to clients like the National Football League, and English Premier League clubs,” Mr Begley said.

“All our technology development resides here in Adelaide. We will be building our in-house data science team as we mature this new AI and machine learning capability,” he added.

AIML was founded in 2018 as a partnership between the University of Adelaide and the Government of South Australia. The institute is now the largest university machine learning group in Australia and one of the best in the world, ranking global #2 for its computer vision research output.

The SME engagement program is funded by the state government to encourage South Australia’s transition to a more modern economy by supporting businesses that want to adopt machine learning and AI to drive productivity growth and improve their local and global competitiveness.

Institute Director Professor Simon Lucey said the award recognised AIML’s success in translating its fundamental AI research into real-world products and solutions for businesses.

“AIML is unique among Australia’s university institutions as it employs in-house engineers to identify and drive forward economic opportunities from AI and machine learning capability,” Professor Lucey said.

“The AIML industry solutions team makes this promise a reality. Our objective is to support South Australian SMEs looking to integrate and adopt machine learning and AI for their own growth, and to enable the companies to attract international partners for further development in SA.”

Tagged in rising sun pictures, pickstar, SME development