Sensum are awarded another Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Queen’s University Belfast


Last year, we were delighted to be awarded a KTP with Queen’s University Belfast. This programme provides new knowledge and expertise, enabling us to avail of the many years of research within Queen’s school of Psychology and refine our emotion AI models to enhance them as our business grows. And just last week, Innovate UK informed us that Sensum has been awarded another KTP. Both of these KTPs have been given a further seal of approval as the ESRC has chosen to be a funder – an endorsement of the quality and opportunity for impact that the ESRC views in these projects.

So what is a KTP?

KTP stands for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. The programme is a threeway partnership between a company, an academic team and a recent graduate. KTP has been working for UK businesses and universities over the last forty years, and is one of the UK government’s most successful knowledge transfer programmes. Thus, it is a huge honour for us to be double awarded within consecutive years.

Gawain Morrison, CEO & Co-Founder of Sensum, states, “With the marriage of such emotions research excellence that comes from the Queen’s University School of Psychology and Sensum's passion for understanding emotions, we have been able to build the foundations of Belfast becoming a centre of excellence in the area of emotions AI. This KTP is a fantastic opportunity to continue the research partnership in this pursuit, complementing our data science team with skills from within the School of Mathematics and Physics.”

What did we want to achieve with our KTP in 2016?

Our key goal was to expand our capabilities of defining and analysing emotions in conditions that proved to be most difficult. As an emotions software solution company, we record data and measure a wide variety of physiological and emotional responses, for example, skin conductance, heart rate, EEG monitoring, eye tracking and facial coding. We are experts at consolidating and integrating data from all of the streams listed above to help our clients make better decisions and be more creative and effective. And when the KTP opportunity came around in 2016 we decided it was time to enhance our emotion algorithms with the substantial knowledge from within Queen’s University School of Psychology. With both our visions founded in an understanding of multimodal biometric data, across a range of contextual circumstances, it has helped us to secure our place as world leader of measuring emotions ‘in the wild’.

Gary McKeown, our Scientific Advisor and Queen’s Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, comments, “Sensum have convinced me in our first project together that they are dedicated to putting a sound scientific basis at the core of their product offerings. It is part of their ethos that providing commercial solutions will be easier and more fruitful if the science on which they are based is solid. The alignment of our conceptions of emotion also provides a great foundation for these partnerships. The acknowledgement that any understanding of emotion related phenomena requires evidence from multiple sources – visual, auditory, biometric, and contextual – is particularly welcome. This makes the understanding and interpretation of emotion a complex phenomena, it undoubtedly is. Sensum have chosen not to shy away from this challenge but to embrace it and that makes this partnership a particularly exciting one for me and our group within the School of Psychology.”

Our 2017 KTP: Refining and expanding our emotion AI capabilities

We are looking forward to expanding the depth of research and continuing this journey with Queen’s. Usually in Northern Ireland, KTP projects are funded by Innovate UK and Invest NI...but not in our case. Alongside Innovate UK, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will once again be co-funding the Sensum KTP with Queen’s University Belfast. You might be wondering why is this a big deal? Well, ESRC are very particular with the projects they choose to fund, as they state “We will support highly innovative KTP projects to exchange knowledge, skills and/or technology arising from excellent social science.” With their financial involvement in our projects two years running, it is clear ESRC see the benefits this new KTP will bring to our global leadership in emotion AI.

This 2017 KTP will enable Sensum to further its relationship with Queen’s School of Mathematics and Physics. Lecturer and KTP partner, Lisa McCrink, said she is “delighted to be involved with the innovative and exciting work which this KTP entails. This project will develop a sophisticated statistical model to represent the psychological theories behind emotions. Due to the complexities of people's emotions, the formalisation of a model to represent this area will no doubt be challenging but highly rewarding. The application of such a model to the volume and variety of data collected by Sensum is an exciting prospect.”

The next steps...

Queen’s KTP programme and Sensum are now looking for a new & motivated graduate to fill the third place in the 2017 three-way partnership! If you are (or know of) a graduate of Mathematics (or a related subject) that is interested in working with the human body, emotional data sets and ready to step up the game of emotion AI then please get in touch with us or email Lorraine Marks at