31 March, 2023 – “Innovations that protect privacy and financial wellbeing are crucial to safeguarding our communities and initiatives like the PETs challenge all work to facilitate the progression of technologies that can make a difference in this important area of society.” Cambridge Business Weekly
Cambridge company Featurespace, whose machine learning technology fights online financial fraud, was named as one of the winners of an inaugural transatlantic crime-busting competition at President Biden’s second Summit for Democracy.
The company emerged victorious in the International PETs challenge launched by the UK and US governments to promote privacy-enhancing technology solutions and help create a world where financial crime doesn’t pay.
Business Weekly understands that Featurespace was among the first companies in either the UK or US to produce a prototype to a fast-track timetable. Now, as one of the UK’s champions, it shares in a $1.6 million combined prize pot – and a treasure trove of kudos.
The winning solutions combined different PETs to allow AI models to learn to make better predictions without exposing any sensitive data. Solutions addressed practical data privacy concerns in real world scenarios.
The Featurespace solution achieved the highest accuracy score in the UK competition for its ability to detect financial crime, returning an average ‘Area-Under-Precision-Recall-Curve’ of 0.94. The solution was also singled out with a special award for its usability and production readiness.
Featurespace’s participation in the challenge enabled the company to develop world-leading privacy-enhancing technologies from scratch, leveraging its existing deep expertise in machine learning technologies and the financial payments domain.
The privilege of participating created an opportunity for the Research and Innovation team at Featurespace to rise to the challenge and they delivered outstanding work that has gained recognition at the highest level.
Iker Perez Lopez, Principal Research Scientist and one of the Featurespace PETs team members commented: “This challenge has been an exciting opportunity to leverage our own innovations for a topical use case. We were very motivated to be in competition with top ranking universities and research labs across the world, and we are proud to be a recipient of an award recognising our contributions. I feel reassured that this team remains at the forefront of innovation in financial data privacy and fraud prevention.”
Innovations that protect privacy and financial wellbeing are crucial to safeguarding our communities and initiatives like the PETS challenge all work to facilitate the progression of technologies that can make a difference in this important area of society.
“With the development of these innovations we are creating a world where it is hard to get away with financial crime and causing disruption with the use of technology means there is an opportunity to stop crime that occurs at a wider more industrialised scale,” said, Dr David Sutton, Featurespace’s Director of Innovation.
The countries will continue to build on their shared interest in advancing responsible innovation in PETs. In May, a joint Demo Day will be held in London to deepen transatlantic communities of practice among transatlantic privacy researchers and government representatives.
Further collaboration in this space, such as developing tools and guidance to assist practitioners to adopt these technologies effectively and responsibly, is being actively explored.