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London-based female-led Cogs AI revolutionises SEND assessments with a 15-minute online test

Cogs AI founders
Picture credits: Cogs AI

The current methods of assessing for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are time-consuming and costly, involving extensive face-to-face evaluations and coordination between under-resourced services.

This is where a UK startup Cogs AI comes into the picture. The company is working with the University of Cambridge to develop a 15-minute online test to identify educational support needs in secondary school-age children. 

Receives grant from Innovate UK

Now, Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, has awarded a £415K grant to Cogs AI, recognising its game-changing potential in the fields of education and child development, particularly for those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Recently, Innovate UK backed Cogitat, Aegiq, and HexisLab). 

“There is a widening gap in provision for those children who have additional needs but aren’t being put forward for full SEND support, and those children who are spending months, if not years, on waiting lists”, said Zareen Ali, co-founder, and CEO of Cogs AI. “We are confident that this new technology will transform the way those additional support needs are identified and provide parents and schools with the information they need to support their children’s academic development and wellbeing.”

Slashes waiting times for autism assessments

Cogs AI was founded in 2021 by Zareen Ali and Felix de Grey in London. The company designs software for young people with special educational needs. Its software will use questions from existing face-to-face assessments but deliver them through a digital interface, offering a user-friendly and accessible experience capable of simultaneously evaluating a large number of children for additional support.

The software uses Computerised Adaptive Testing (CAT) technology, providing a tailored set of questions from a larger pool. A sophisticated machine learning algorithm selects only questions relevant to an individual based on their previous answers, allowing for a fast and personalised experience. The collaboration with Cogs AI applies CAT technology to the field of special educational needs, covering four key domains: communication and interaction; cognition and learning; social, emotional, and mental health; and sensory and physical needs.

The project’s lead researchers, Professor Peter Jones and Dr Jan Stochl from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry have previously implemented this technology in a different field, creating software that assesses children’s mental wellbeing in just 10 minutes.

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