Tashi and his team with Apple

The Challenge

Mr. Tashi Gyaltsen is a Senior Business Engagement Officer, within the Science and Engineering faculty, at Swansea University. Tashi's research surrounds real-world challenges at the Human-centred AI Research Centre (EPSRC CDT) in the contexts of health and wellbeing, smart manufacturing; and cross-cutting digital economy.

Tashi and his team were granted funding by HEFCW (Higher Education Funding Council for Wales) with the aim to build the first Apple-Swansea University relationship, to stregthen research in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Machine Learning (ML) at Computational Foundry.

Tashi saw the opportunity behind the grant application to work with Apple, when he met Apple at an international conference called ICML (International Conference on Machine Learning) in July last year. He met a research manager whose work was about combining human computer interaction and machine learning techniques to design gesture methods for smart watches; and their AI academic partnership manager.

This is where Tashi formed his idea to strengthen the relationship between Swansea University and Apple in order to strengthen the research already conducted within HCI and ML, providing for a more tangible connection with Apple.

The Method

Tashi wanted to establish a tangible connection with a world-renowned technology company; the idea was for Computational Foundry to collaborate with Apple. Specifically, Tashi wanted to bring together academics from Human Computer Interaction and Machine Learning teams to join forces to offer a strengthened capability to Apple.

Collaboration like this takes a lot of work and dedication from everyone involved. Tashi gives his heartful thank you to the Research Wales Innovation Fund for seeing the potential in this project.

In March 2023, Tashi and his team conducted a knowledge sharing session where the Apple research manager gave a talk, followed by some Q&A.

The Swansea University team and Apple met again at CHI (International Human Computer Interaction Conference) in late April and further discussed the collaboration. At the conference, Tashi also met with another prominent Apple person, Jefferey P Bingham, and discussed him visiting Swansea University later this year for a talk and inter-disciplinary workshop. This will also present co-authoring research paper opportunities. 

The project lead, Tashi, has also met with a number of industry people at CHI 2023, such as Adobe Research, Toyota Research Institute, Sony Computer Science Lab, BMW Group, Snap Inc (SnapChat), Nokia Bell Lab, and Samsung Research. This is a fantastic example of how the Research Wales Innovation Fund provides opportunities that go beyond the initial project.

Tashi is currently getting back to them to start nurturing the relationship, which will be another incredible partnership between Swansea Universtiy and the technology industry.

The collaboration aim with Apple helps put Swansea University on the map in the terms of technology research and collaboration, this research project and partnership was driven by the need for collaboration with one of the biggest technology companies, Apple. 

The Impact

This HEFCW funded project successfully established connections with Apple and has provided more opportunities to connect with other Apple organisations, including Apple Cambridge (UK). 

Tashi and his team have discussed further in-person visits and workshops, showing the longevity of this Research Wales Innovation Funded project. 

The project lead has furthermore discussed opportunities with Morgan Academy Institute about using funding to invite Apple in the future, where around 30 people staff and students attended the virtual talk.

More results from this project include: converted new industry relationship (established with RWIF Funding round 2) into research revenue: These companies have committed sponsoring PhD research at the Centre: GSK (£46k), QinetiQ sponsoring 2 PhDs (£90k), Pearson (£46k) and Hywel Dda University Health Board (£46k). Potential total: £182k.

The last impact recorded from this project so far is the In-kind support for ESPRC Fellowship:

EPSRC Fellowship proposal entitled ‘Everyone-Virtuoso-Everyday (EVE): Exploring Strongly Human-Driven Perspectives to Diversify and Disrupt AI Discovery and Innovation’. Letter of support with in-kind contribution as below:

  • BT (£40k)
  • Digital Catapult (£11k)
  • Digital Health and Care Wales (£75k)
  • GSK (£20k)
  • IBM (£50k)
  • Rescape Innovations (£37.5k)
  • Swansea Bay Health Board (£75k)
  • HSBC (£52k)

Total: £360k