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Exclusive: London AI firm Faculty poaches senior civil servant to lead government practice

Tom Nixon has left his role as the Department for Education’s strategy chief to head up British AI firm Faculty’s new government practice.

Since its launch in 2014, Faculty has established itself as one of the government’s primary suppliers of data science and AI consultancy services.

It led an official review of the technology’s applications in the public sector earlier this year and has won a number of high profile contracts, including work developing an online extremism detection tool for the Home Office.

In recent weeks Faculty, formerly known as ASI Data Science, has also secured a year-long contract to provide data science consultancy services focusing on the government’s public-facing website, GOV.UK. The contract comes just weeks after it emerged that Downing Street was gathering user data generated through the site.

Nixon, who spent ten years in the civil service, reports to Faculty’s director of data science services John Gibson, and has been tasked with establishing the company’s government practice and deepening its work with Whitehall and the wider public sector.

In his role as the Department for Education’s head of strategy, Nixon guided the development of the T level, a technical post-GCSE qualification, and the Apprenticeships Levy. He previously served as a senior economic adviser to David Cameron in Downing Street.

Nixon said in a statement: “I’m delighted to join the Faculty team, which is uniquely positioned to help realise the value of AI for citizens and taxpayers through a combination of the right strategy, software and skills. The team already has strong experience delivering value for government departments with AI, across healthcare, policing and counter-terrorism to name a few.

“What’s most special though is the team’s commitment to ensuring the technology is deployed ethically and safely which will be so critical for its widespread adoption into the services we come into contact with every day.”

Gibson added: “We are extremely proud of our public sector work to date.. This has ranged from helping government departments design and execute their AI strategies, through to building software to detect terrorist propaganda or predict delays on the train network. We are delighted to have Tom join us. He brings with him the thoughtful leadership and true commitment to public service that will grow our impact in years to come.”

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