Covid scanner firm to create hundreds of jobs

image copyrightUtterBerry
image captionThe contactless Covid scanner has already been trialled across the UK

A technology firm which designs and builds Covid-19 symptom scanners is set to create at least 800 new jobs in Leeds.

UK tech start-up UtterBerry has bought a former cloth merchant’s building in the city centre and and is due to start operating in the autumn.

The firm is known for its AI sensor technology used on projects such as Crossrail and London Underground.

It said it wanted to recruit workers who had lost jobs due to the pandemic.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe firm’s founder Heba Bevan said it was hoped the scanner would play a part in preventing future lockdowns

The firm said the machines, which scan the wrist and use artificial intelligence to combine a variety of factors to create a risk profile, had already proved successful in trials and hoped to to roll them out across the UK and worldwide.

They predicted the site, at the former Charles Walker & Son’s furniture manufacturers on Sovereign Street, would create a minimum of 400 full-time and 400 part-time roles over next five years but numbers could reach 1,000.

Founder Heba Bevan OBE, who was born in Leeds, said she was particularly keen to attract more women into the traditionally male-dominated industry.

The business was looking for local workers who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and were keen to train potential employees, she added.

Ms Bevan said: “Our new AI hub in Leeds has been a lifelong dream of mine ever since I designed my very first robot at university.”

image copyrightUtterBerry
image captionMs Bevan was awarded an OBE in 2018 for her contributions to technology

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the investment was “fantastic news for Leeds”.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said the arrival of UtterBerry would “help unlock the potential of communities in Leeds”.

He added it would also “part in our recovery from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by driving an apprenticeship programme and further skills training.”

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