Deloitte launches latest AI research institute in Australia

22 July 2021 3 min. read

Melbourne will be the base for a new AI research institute launched by professional services firm Deloitte.

The artificial intelligence (AI) Institute will be led by Deloitte Consulting partner Kellie Nuttall, who steps up from her role as national Analytics & AI leader, and forms part of a broader Deloitte Global initiative to drive innovation and collaboration in the artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) sphere across both the private and public sectors.

“(It’s) about bringing the many dimensions of the Australian AI ecosystem together, to advance the conversation on AI and ML, and their adoption across Australian government and business,” Nuttall stated. “We will engage with futurists, corporate leaders, data scientists and next-gen STEM talent to deliver impactful research that supports businesses in translating complicated unknowns into predictable, measurable outcomes.”

Deloitte launches latest AI research institute in Australia

Nuttall also pointed to a CSIRO estimate that AI together with other digital technologies could be worth as much as $315 billion to the Australian economy by 2028, while in part addressing the ongoing public reluctance toward the technology. “We will examine important questions of how we build ethics and transparency into AI and help organisations remain distinctively human in a technology-driven world,” she said.

A doctorate-holder in consumer decision making and nudge psychology, Nuttall has been with Deloitte since 2012 after a four year stint with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads in Brisbane, latterly as an Executive Director in Integrated Transport Planning. Bringing her passion for transport to Deloitte, she also serves as the firm’s Future of Mobility lead, with a focus on data and analytics in transport operations.

Deloitte Consulting Managing Partner Ellen Derrick echoed Nuttall’s sentiments on the need for a measured approach in developing AI capacity, saying; “We know that AI offers so much potential, but are also mindful that a finely honed balance needs to be struck between all of the upside and how humans interact with intelligent machines and big data. The Deloitte AI Institute in Australia will ignite the conversation around applied AI.”

While physically located in Melbourne, Deloitte said that its Australian AI Institute would “operate in a virtual world” as part of a global ecosystem, with the firm having launched its first such institute in the US in the middle of last year. Since then, it has added further nodes in China, the UK, Germany, and Canada. The enterprise is headed globally by Executive Director Beena Ammanath, under Global Analytics & Cognitive Leader Costi Perricos.

Government focus

The launch of Deloitte’s AI Institute in Australia follows recent government announcements on the establishment of a National Artificial Intelligence Centre and four Digital Capability Centres under the CSIRO’s data science branch Data 6, with $54 million put aside in the latest budget.

Forming part of the $124 million AI Action Plan last released last month, the government will also release a package of research grants and $25 million in education support.