ANU’s problem-solving spinout wins AI Sprint

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

An ANU spinout that uses AI to breakdown complex business and policy problems beat out almost 200 other startups on Thursday to claim top prize at Australia’s inaugural AI Sprint awards, landing the company $300,000 in R&D support.

Dragonfly Thinking won the top prize in recognition of its AI tools, which uses founder Professor Anthea Roberts’ decision making models to create system maps and analysis of complex problems, promising more accurate understanding and solutions.

The startup’s name comes from a dragonfly’s 360 degree vision. The insect’s compound eyes are made up of thousands of lenses, helping it to detect prey and rapidly adjust to movement.

Runners up Kindship and Empathetic AI also received $100,000 worth of R&D support, to develop their AI assistants, which offer users assistance with the NDIS and tax, respectively.

Image: Dragonfly Thinking

Kindship was recognised for its Barb AI assistant, which offers always-on support for navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Adelaide startup’s AI assistant offers 24/7 advice on budgeting, provider selection, and therapy options, and has been developed based on founder Summer Petrosius’ own experience with the support scheme.

Empathetic AI’s assistant meanwhile is focused on tax, offering users scenario analysis, real-time ATO private ruling updates, and automated legislation reference checks. The Sydney startup will launch to market this year.

The three firms’ prizes come in the form of in-kind support from the CSIRO’s SME Connect program, while assistance will also be provided by incubator Stone & Chalk, Main Sequence Ventures and Google.

Insightwise, an AI reasoning engine that can provide consulting like services that pull strategic insights from qualitative data, won the people’s choice award.

The AI Sprint Awards are run as a collaboration between the National AI Centre, Stone & Chalk, and Google Cloud and attracted more than 190 startups this year.

The program attracted AI startups pursuing products and services like a sentiment tracker for affordability, a scam detection tool for digital communications, an AI-integrated downlight and smoke alarm system, and non-wearable monitoring system to aid elderly independence.

The centre’s director Stela Solar said the three winners were chosen for their ability to scale innovative and responsible AI companies.

“They all have exceptionally bright futures ahead of them, and we’re proud to have provided the opportunity to help them transform their AI concepts into real-world impact,” she said.

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