Altada: Helping businesses to unlock the potential of AI

31 May 2021

Allan F Beechinor and Niamh Parker, Altada co-founders. Image: Keogh

Hailing from Cork, Altada offers its clients deep domain knowledge on AI and deep learning as these technologies trigger transformation journeys across industries.

‘Altada’ comes from the combination of two words. The ‘alt’ is for alt data – that is, alternatives to traditional data sources which are increasingly being used to provide deeper insight for decision-makers.

Ada Lovelace is the namesake for the latter half. Considered the world’s first computer programmer, she wrote an algorithm for Charles Babbage’s early computing machine in the mid-19th century.

“Imagine the possibilities she might be able to see today,” mused Allan F Beechinor, CEO and co-founder of Altada. And possibility is what Altada sets out to unlock, using artificial intelligence.

While AI has become the business buzzword of the day, its implementation remains spotty.

According to a recent global survey by Boston Consulting Group, business leaders’ intent to deploy AI is growing. Almost 60pc of global executive respondents said they had an AI strategy as of 2020, up from 39pc in 2017. However, while businesses are on board with the adoption of AI, execution to benefit the bottom line is far from achieved.

“Only 11pc of organisations achieve significant financial benefits with AI,” said Beechinor, citing the Boston Consulting Group study. To that, he said: “Enter Altada.”

‘You don’t have to be an AI person, you just need to understand that you can apply it to a business problem’

According to Beechinor, Altada closes this gap between AI ambition and impact. “We are pioneers in deploying and executing effective AI to make the impossible, AI-possible.”

Deeply domain-specific, Altada is laser-focused on AI technologies and has developed its own proprietary deep learning algorithms, predictive models, computer perception algorithms and knowledge extraction systems.

Altada clients effectively make use of the company’s team of AI solutions architects, data scientists, machine learning engineers and commercial technologists. They promise the results often touted by digital transformation – reduced processing cost, increased efficiency and optimisation of resources – through deploying “ethical and sustainable” AI.

Financial services companies in the US, global technology providers, and even healthcare support services using technology in their response to Covid-19 have all made use of Altada’s services. These can range from identifying a security risk in a packed football stadium while preserving individuals’ anonymity, to providing real-time analytics to large property shareholders so that they can make better investment decisions.

“We’re already disrupting in fintech,” added Beechinor. “We audited $2bn of loans last weekend alone for a major US bank.”

In a nutshell, Altada brings the AI expertise so that other businesses don’t have to. “You don’t have to be an AI person, you just need to understand that you can apply it to a business problem,” said Beechinor.

Key to the company’s emerging success are “deep client relationships”. Beechinor claimed that clients become instantly evangelical about his company’s offerings once they encounter them, embedding Altada’s tech at their heart of their organisation.

“Our AI becomes their competitive edge, and every new client and use case feeds the platform. It’s constantly breaking its own records, for example undertaking due diligence in seconds versus minutes,” he said.

Beechinor comes at this from a well-respected position as an AI thought leader, involved with guiding the next generation of talent in this area. He is a board member of Science Foundation Ireland’s Centre for Research Training in Artificial Intelligence, Ireland’s national centre for PhD training in AI. He’s also a member of the advisory board of the AI programme at University of Limerick and previously served as an adviser on AI to Tech Ireland and Cork-born biotech start-up accelerator, RebelBio.

In this spirit of driving AI advancement in Ireland, Altada has also partnered with Tangent at Trinity College Dublin to run an AI start-up accelerator.

Like Beechinor, Altada co-founder Niamh Parker is a serial entrepreneur, though her expertise lies in law and data privacy. While serving as chief legal officer of Altada, she is also the CEO of sister company BeaconAI, which specialises in data privacy solutions. Both companies are headquartered in Cork, with BeaconAI taking its name from the iconic beacon in Baltimore, west Cork.

Just last week, Altada was named Emerging Company of the Year 2021 by Cork Chamber. Prior to this, the company was listed among Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential Irish start-ups to watch this year.

‘Some of our own clients have expressed their interest in investing’

“From a business perspective, we expect to hit our $100m valuation by the end of the year,” said Beechinor of the company’s immediate plans.

This ambition stems from the massive market opportunity for operational AI, with projecting that the AIOps platform market will grow by $14.3bn in the coming years. Altada finds itself ideally positioned to provide much-needed support amid the rising demand for AI.

“Organisations with large datasets must immediately act on their own intelligence to be competitive in today’s insight-driven economy. Data is growing exponentially, and operational efficiency is necessary for survival,” said Beechinor.

And so far so good in terms of capturing that market and scoring hard-won clients. “In terms of market validation, it’s harder to find greater evidence than a hyper commercially rational US finance client who wants ‘in’,” said Beechinor.

The mission, as Beechinor put it, is: “To solve the seemingly unsolvable. To leverage AI in the manner that it was originally created – taking what we know and using the power of computing to create meaningful human and business change.”

Working towards this goal, Altada has expanded from Cork to open a tech hub in Malta as well as Enterprise Ireland hubs in Austin and Dallas in the US. Now 50 employees strong, the company is attracting investor interest.

Having raised €1.3m in seed funding from Enterprise Ireland and Rocktop Partners, the company is now receiving “lots of inbound calls from VCs” and there is “significant interest” in the next funding round. “We also have some more of our own clients who have expressed their interest in investing,” said Beechinor.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.