Informatics student wins prestigious business start-up partnership

Posted by pt91 at May 22, 2017 01:12 PM |
Start-up business ‘Sphere’ aims to improve experience for public transport users

A new technology developed by a Leicester student that will allow commuters to talk to transport services through social media has received support from a highly competitive start-up programme.

Ciaran Deasy, a current student in the Department of Informatics, fought off tough competition to be awarded a place in London Midland Labs’s Accelerator programme. Through the Accelerator programme, train operator London Midland aims to form fruitful partnerships with innovative start-up companies that will lead to transformations across the transport industry.

Despite being the youngest applicant and only student to submit an entry, Ciaran’s start-up 'Sphere’ was selected from over 120 applications as one of ten enterprises for London Midland to develop. Sphere is an automated messaging tool (a bot) with integrated machine learning capability that will enable commuters to communicate with nearby transport services via social media channels such as Facebook Messenger. Using natural language processing it is capable of understanding the meaning of commuters’ questions and answer them with a personal touch.

Before securing his place at London Midland Labs, Ciaran took part in the University’s flagship start-up programme, Launchpad Leicester, through which students who have innovative and ambitious start-up plans have access to seed funding, workshops, coaching and networking events to help make their ideas a reality. Delivered by the Career Development Service, the programme has been backed by Santander Universities in support of the University realising its ambition to nurture an enterprising culture across the institution. A showcase of these start-ups will be taking place Tuesday 6 June at one of the regular Start-up Cafes hosted by the University.

Ciaran was also shortlisted for the Future Chief Financial Officer award in the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2017.