Innovative vet start-up to move into £40m Nexus building

A vet-tech start-up is the latest innovative business to join the growing community at Nexus, the University of Leeds’ new £40m innovation hub.

Founded in 2017 by tech expert, Paul Hallett, experienced veterinarian, Robert Dawson and veterinary dermatologist, Sarah Warren, Vet-AI is a research and development company dedicated to overhauling the pet healthcare industry. The team won the innovation award at this year’s Yorkshire Business Masters Awards.

Hallett, Dawson and Warren are striving to bring animal health in line with some of the ground-breaking innovations seen in the human health sector and are currently creating a number of solutions that focus on supporting pets and their owners, giving them access to affordable and convenient care when their pets need it most.

The co-founders have spent the past 18-months researching and understanding pet owners’ needs, as well as the current vet-tech landscape, which has informed the company’s flagship brand, Joii. Built by a team of experts with cutting-edge, bespoke technology, Joii is an app for pet owners to diagnose symptoms and receive recommended treatment for their pets, from the comfort of their home at any time of the day.

Using Joii, concerned pet owners simply list their pet’s symptoms, which are then assessed by the AI triage model. The app then generates information to help them decide what to do next, whether it be no action at all, consulting a vet online or visiting a practice. Joii will offer online consultations via video with vets and online chats with vet nurses within the app.

Ahead of its first product launch this spring, Vet AI has moved into Nexus to tap into the University of Leeds’ world-leading academic and research expertise. Working with Nexus’ relationship management team, Vet AI will receive support in developing productive working partnerships and collaborations to drive business growth and develop further cutting-edge tech.

Hallett, co-founder of Vet-AI, said: “Nexus is the best place to grow a tech business in the region, because it bridges the important gap between vision, industry and academic validation with the University of Leeds. With Nexus, we are able to take our technology and gain the required support to turn it into a global business.”

Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director, added: “We’re delighted to have such a progressive and innovative business joining the Nexus community.  Vet AI is a perfect example of how collaborations between academia and businesses can translate into cutting-edge innovations that deliver real solutions.  We’re looking forward to seeing what further technologies these synergies can deliver.”

The firm, which launched in the UK in 2018, has built a team of industry experts including vets, PhD level data scientists and technology programmers.  The team includes OBE award-winning entrepreneur, Jonathan Sands and chief data scientist and computational solid-state physicist, Trevor Hardcastle, as well as former head of AI at Push Doctor Josh Sephton and Monocle and Forbes–featured designer, Guy Buchan.

Having already secured over £750,000 in funding, 2019 will be a year of rapid growth for Vet-AI, with plans to seek additional investment and recruit 30 new team members. The firm also has its sights set on going global, with Australia, the US, Europe and Asia key markets for expansion and plans to partner with animal welfare charities in the near future.

Officially launching in May, Nexus will feature state-of-the-art facilities including office and lab space, collaboration areas, event and meeting space and a dedicated team who will be responsible for facilitating productive working partnerships and collaborations. Connecting businesses to the University’s world-class research and facilities and talent, Nexus will give businesses a competitive edge in a dynamic market.

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