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</The IMAI programme’s virtual roundtable event>

Published on 22 April 2020 by web editor

Blog, IMAI news

While our working environment has certainly changed over the past few weeks, the Industrial Masters in Artificial Intelligence Programme has endeavoured to adapt to the changes and hosted their first ever virtual roundtable via Zoom on 31st March.

The aim of the day was to create connections with new industry partners, who are essential in developing placement and sponsorship opportunities for AI Masters students. With these collaborations, we can produce experienced and professional graduates for the AI industry.

Remote set up for the first virtual roundtable

For the University of Ulster, who is a higher education institute contact with the IMAI Programme, it was a chance to offer their feedback directly to industry contacts, and make connections to bring employers and educators together. We also had a good turnout of delegates from our contacts at InvestNI, Digital Catapult NI, Cynash and CCEA, as well as the IMAI team, and Tim Cook from the Office for Artificial Intelligence.

The session started with an introduction to the Institute of Coding and the Industrial Masters for Artificial Intelligence programme. The IMAI project lead – Zara Johnson – spoke to the group about the IoC’s aims and its progress to date.

Zara then spoke to the group about the programme and the benefits which could be offered by working with the IMAI team. Heading into the second phase of the project, the IMAI is reaching out to any company that works with AI, to understand the specific requirements of their business, and partner them with the most relevant higher education institution which would benefit their work.

It was exciting to give more detail to the group on this innovative industry and government collaboration to develop the next generation of AI experts in the UK. Participants agreed that this was a necessary and needed initiative for the UK AI industries. Further information about the IMAI programme, as well as useful links and documents, can be found here.

We then were able to share some videos from current IMAI programme scholars at Queen Mary University London, who are being sponsored by our partners at DeepMind for their studies. They gave us their feedback on how the IMAI programme has helped them in their studies and their development within AI.

Gloriose Hitimana speaking about her experience with the IMAI programme

We then opened the floor for a roundtable discussion on the aims of this project, and any comments from the group in regards to what they require from an AI Masters graduate. The feedback and contributions were excellent from all attendees, and each point brought about an enthusiastic discussion by the whole group.

Gary Campbell from InvestNI noted that “across companies there is a huge interest in AI,” and that they are looking to “increase the number of people with AI skills”, which highlights how important these sorts of projects are.

As with all roundtable events, the requirements varied from company to company, but some overriding themes were also discovered, which would be beneficial for all.

Tim Cook from the Office for AI continued the event by explaining the governments aims and objectives within this sector, and how the relationships held with the individual businesses was so important to this initiative going forward. More details about this can be found on the Office for AI’s website here: 

The day rounded out by discussions in regards to what the IMAI team could offer everyone individually to assist in finding them the right students for placements. Overall, it was a great day full of interesting discussions and positive connections. Going forward, the IMAI team is excited to work with everyone who attended to assist them in supporting the next generation of AI specialists!

Want to be a part of the IMAI programme, as a student, educator or employer? Email the team at

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