Stage 1 Feasibility Funding from the EPSRC-funded NewMind Network Plus partnership
Added on Thursday, March 1st, 2018
This February, ICC Research Associate, Dr Rafaela Ganga, along with colleagues from the Notts Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, University of Sheffield and University of East London, was awarded feasibility funding from the NewMind Network Plus for the project ‘Developing an Artificial Intelligence Empathy Agent’.
Since 2016, the EPSRC-funded NewMind Network for Mental Health Technology has awarded 11 ‘Stage 1’ feasibility grants (up to £15k each) and will fund up to four projects for further development during ‘Stage 2′ (up to £45k each). The process for developing research proposals is through a series of sandpit events followed by Dragons’ Den panels to determine successful applicants.
The awarded project will test the feasibility of an Artificial Intelligence Empathy Agent. Current e-therapies lack empathy; they are often experienced as ‘detached’ and not personally relevant. The Empathy Agent (EA) will address these issues, providing empathic peer-led support via smartphones. Powered by a Peer Support Community of service user (SU) experts, the EA will represent consolidated real human empathy, growing smarter and more empathic with each use. The EA works as a standalone virtual agent, but in the future could also be connected to local information and community assets (including arts and cultural services) or embedded into therapeutic programmes, adding the human touch to e-therapies.