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This female-led UK startup raised more than half a million to help financial companies mitigate biases and take fair decisions with AI

Image credits: ETIQ

Born out of the Zinc VC mission 2 accelerator program, ETIQ helps financial companies identify and eliminate bias within their AI algorithms. 

The London-based startup has now raised £585,000 in pre-seed funding that includes equity investment from SFC Capital and grants from Innovate UK. 

The funding will be used for R&D to improve the platform and expand marketing and sales functions. 

Help mitigate biases

Founded by Iris Anson and Raluca Crisan, ETIQ’s platform analyses the data and models used by a company, identifying potential bias issues and applying fixes to help mitigate that bias. 

This enables financial firms to better answer difficult questions relating to bias and the “black box” nature of algorithms used to make decisions about everything from credit decisions to investment strategies.

Cloud-based platform and affordable

Since ETIQ is a cloud-based platform, it eliminates the need for expensive installation and simplifies scaling the process. It relies on its machine learning making it affordable for even smaller firms. 

Its clients are a range of financial companies that are under increasing regulatory pressure to use models that make fair decisions, under competitive pressure to leverage the best returns from their customer data, and increasingly using algorithmic decision making. 

The company has partnered with SIA Technology, a market leader for the design, creation, and management of technology infrastructure for financial institutions around the globe, in the framework of an innovation action funded by EIT Digital.

Speaking about the challenge of making AI-powered decision-making truly objective and fair, Iris Anson, co-founder of ETIQ, said: “Machine learning is more and more integral to products and services we use every day – and to decisions that businesses and governments make about us – but without a widely-accessible way of identifying and eliminating bias, it could cause significant damage to our society by further entrenching discriminatory decision-making despite our best intentions and without us even realising.”

On the completion of the funding round, Anson added: “We are delighted to have secured this investment. It will allow us to accelerate the development of our product and hire some key staff to help our expansion as we aim to tackle this enormous challenge for society.”

Rohallah Ghasemi, Investment Executive at SFC Capital, said: “The ETIQ team really impressed us with their idea. Machine learning is becoming more and more crucial across all industries, and we need the right tools to ensure that it is developed and deployed correctly. ETIQ has already gained good traction in the market, and we look forward to seeing how they develop.”