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AI firm hired by Vote Leave wins seven government contracts in 18 months

Dominic Cummings hired AI firm Faculty, which traded under the name Advanced Skills Initiative, during the 2016 Brexit referendum. The firm has since won seven government contracts in 18 months. (Photograph: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

An Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm hired by Dominic Cummings to help with the 2016 Vote Leave campaign has been awarded seven government contracts in 18 months.

Faculty, run by Marc Warner, who last week admitted attending scientific advisory group on emergencies (SAGE) meetings, has won more than £280,000 in government work, The Guardian reports.

One of those tenders was a £250,000 cross-government review on the adoption of artificial intelligence issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in 2019.

Lord Theodore Agnew, a Tory minister with a £90,000 shareholding in the analytic business, had oversight of the Government Digital Service (GDS), a body which promotes the use of digital technology to improve public services.

GDS teamed up with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Office for Artificial Intelligence on the assignment.

Faculty is now processing UK patient data as part of a government response Covid-19. The company is working alongside US firm Palantir, owned by billionaire Peter Thiel.

Warner’s brother has also had a frontline role in government. Ben Warner was headhunted by Cummings last year to help with Tory’s re-election campaign and has since remained. He is another former Faculty employee to sit in on SAGE gatherings.

The company also worked on a fellowship programme in 2018 helping place data scientists in city governments. At the time, the company traded under the name of Advanced Skills Initiative.

Calls for Lord Agnew’s resignation have failed to gather pace after the a government spokesperson said he had followed “appropriate procedures” when he declared his interest in the company in the House of Lords register.



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