Vet-tech specialist Vet-AI has welcomed two senior academics from the University of Leeds to its fast-growing team as it takes its revolutionary Joii app to the next level.

The company, based at University of Leeds innovation hub, Nexus, has formed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Mark Gilthorpe, Professor of Statistical Epidemiology at the University’s School of Medicine and Health and Dr Ali Gooya, Lecturer in Computer Science at the School of Computing. A KTP is an Innovate UK programme which links forward-thinking companies with leading academic teams in order to drive innovation.

Via the KTP, the interdisciplinary pair will work with the Vet-AI team on ground-breaking technology to diagnose and predict skin conditions in cats and dogs using its Joii app for pet owners.

Trevor Hardcastle, chief data scientist at Vet-AI, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Professor Gilthorpe and Dr Gooya as our academic experts to work alongside our R&D and clinical team as we focus on developing our app’s capacity for automatic diagnosis and prediction of skin conditions in cats and dogs.

Renowned experts in their fields of predictive modelling and AI, they will be helping us to derive novel insights into pet data across age, gender, previous illnesses, treatments and allergies, in what will be the world’s biggest clinical trial on pet welfare. The new findings and disease prediction capability has the potential to be expanded into other areas of pet health including cardiology and neurology.

The Nexus team has been instrumental in connecting us with the brilliant academic minds at the University of Leeds and we’re delighted to be working with world leading experts as we move into the next phase of our AI development.

This new partnership is our second award within a year and it’s fantastic to see Innovate UK recognising our potential with this level of support.”

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.

Knowledge transfer adviser Ian Blakemore has worked closely with Vet-AI to shape and support delivery of the project on behalf of KTN which delivers the KTP programme for Innovate UK. “This is the second KTP for the business, and with ever increasing demand for their approach and technology, both projects form a critical part of the strategy to access and commercialise the knowledge from the University for positive change.”

The “Joii“ app enables pet owners to list their pet’s symptoms, which are then assessed by the AI triage model, generating information to help them decide what to do next, whether it be no action at all, consulting a vet online or visiting a practice.

KTPs are funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK and aim to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills.