DeepMind, an AI research lab acquired by Google for £400 million in 2014, has provided an update on how its DeepMind Health unit is doing. The London-based company told Business Insider on Tuesday that it has doubled the size of its team from 20 to 40 since launching in February this year, hiring several big names in the AI world along the way.
New hires include security and privacy expert Ben Laurie, who is the founding director of the Apache Software Foundation, a director at the Open Rights Group, and a veteran Google software engineer, and former CIO Tony Corkett, who helped the NHS to digitise X-rays.
Former Google Maps team leader Andrew Eland has been brought in to head up DeepMind Health's engineering efforts, while Will Cavendish, a former civil servant that worked on NHS online booking and prescription services, has joined as strategy lead. Elsewhere, ex-GE Healthcare executive Cathy Harris has been appointed as DeepMind Health's product lead.
All of the new hires will work alongside Mustafa Suleyman, DeepMind cofounder and head of applied AI at Google, and Dominic King, DeepMind Health's clinical lead.
The expansion of DeepMind Health comes as the company looks to do increasing amounts of work with the NHS. The company has announced three NHS partnerships so far, including an eyecare project, a kidney monitoring project and a cancer detection project. None of the projects hold any commercial value for DeepMind but the company eventually plans to start charging the NHS and others for access to its products and services.
The potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare is huge but there are issues that need to be addressed along the way, including complex matters like privacy, which caught out DeepMind earlier this year when New Scientist obtained an NHS information-sharing agreement between DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Trust that showed the company had access to millions of medical records.
"Since we announced DeepMind Health earlier this year, we’ve been inundated with requests and suggestions from patients, nurses, doctors, researchers and Trusts," said Suleyman in a statement. "It’s clear there’s massive demand for new technology to help patient care, and many brilliant people across the NHS with practical ideas about how to make it happen.
"We also know that working in health is complicated, and we need many different types of expertise if we’re to build tools that have real clinical impact, integrate well with the needs and existing infrastructure of the NHS, and set ever higher standards for privacy and security. We don’t underestimate this challenge at all.
"Over the last year we’ve brought together some amazing leaders with diverse skills and experiences to join us on this mission. With continued input from and engagement with patients and clinicians across the country, we’ll be working hard to deliver on the promise of positive impact for the NHS and those, like us, who depend on it."
DeepMind had less than 100 employees when it was acquired by Google but the team has grown quickly over the last couple of years and now the overall headcount stands at over 250 people.