Spinout News

UCL spinout Satalia acquired by WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group

23 August 2021


Leading AI company spun out of UCL will play a key role in shaping future growth for UK-based multinational

WPP, the world’s largest advertising and creative group headquartered in London, has announced the acquisition of Satalia Ltd, an award-winning provider of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.

Satalia is a UCL spinout from the UCL Department of Computer Science and a global leader in enterprise AI. It is one of the UK’s fastest-growing tech companies, whose clients include BT, DFS, DS Smith, PwC, Gigaclear, Tesco and Unilever. It has deep expertise in business optimisation, from supply chain logistics to human resources

The company was founded by Dr Daniel Hulme in 2008 to commercialise a prototype optimisation tool funded by UCL Business’s proof of concept award programme. Dr Hulme holds a PhD in AI from UCL where he is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence.

Following the acquisition, Satalia will join WPP’s Wunderman Thompson agency, which provides marketing communications services across the world, including consultancy, creative support and technology. Wunderman Thompson Commerce, a part of Wunderman Thompson, is a leading consultancy in the growing eCommerce market.

Dr Hulme will become WPP’s Chief AI Officer and will work closely with WPP’s Chief Technology Officer and its agencies to promote AI capabilities across the company.

Dr Steven Schooling, Director, Engineering and Physical Sciences, UCL Business commented:

“We are proud to have supported Dr Daniel Hulme and Satalia from the start of their journey when “AI” was not the commonly known term that it is today, through to today’s announcement. UCL Business’s purpose is to maximise the real-world impact of the skills, knowledge and vision of UCL’s researchers. Satalia’s acquisition by WPP is a prime example of the particularly huge potential in our early career researcher base where the entrepreneurial environment of UCL and the business support infrastructure provided by the UCLB team helps such talent reach fruition. We are delighted that the Satalia team will now go on to play a key role in driving the future growth and technology leadership of one of UK Plc’s most famous companies.”

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement), said:

“Satalia’s acquisition by WPP demonstrates how UCL’s world-leading AI research and innovation is shaping the future of automation and machine intelligence, at the heart of a global city. This deal represents recognition of the leading nature of Satalia’s work and WPP’s global reach and resources can only amplify its impact.”

UCL conducts some of the best artificial intelligence research and innovation in the world, and in 2019 launched the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence to strengthen UCL’s foundational AI research, delivering the UKRI funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Foundational Artificial Intelligence. UCL is also host to the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI-enabled Healthcare Systems.

In addition to Satalia, previous world-leading AI companies to have emerged from UCL’s research community include Google DeepMind and Bloomsbury.AI, which agreed to join Facebook in London in 2018. UCLB also operates Portico Ventures, a framework designed to help researchers set up technology-based businesses in fields such as AI that can thrive in a fast-moving ecosystem by allowing for a template licence and equity consideration for IP for non-patentable, high growth spinout opportunities.

About UCL

UCL is a diverse community with the freedom to challenge and think differently.

Our community of more than 41,500 students from 150 countries and over 12,500 staff pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries and makes a positive impact on real world problems.

We are consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the world and are one of only a handful of institutions rated as having the strongest academic reputation and the broadest research impact.

We have a progressive and integrated approach to our teaching and research – championing innovation, creativity and cross-disciplinary working. We teach our students how to think, not what to think, and see them as partners, collaborators and contributors.

For almost 200 years, we are proud to have opened higher education to students from a wide range of backgrounds and to change the way we create and share knowledge.

We were the first in England to welcome women to university education and that courageous attitude and disruptive spirit is still alive today.

We are UCL.

www.ucl.ac.uk| Follow @uclnews on Twitter | Watch our YouTube channel | Listen to UCL podcasts on SoundCloud | Find out what’s on at UCL Minds | #MadeAtUCL

Find out how UCL is helping lead the global fight against COVID-19 www.ucl.ac.uk/covid-19-research

About UCL Business Ltd (UCLB)

UCL Business Ltd (UCLB), part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise, is the commercialisation company for UCL. Working with UCL’s globally renowned faculties and associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital, it brings together exceptional ideas, innovations and industry to benefit society and the economy.

UCLB’s track record of success includes over £1.5 billion raised in investment for UCL spinouts, and its Portico Ventures Programme is enabling the next wave of technology-based businesses to thrive in a fast-moving ecosystem. Its fund offerings - Apollo Therapeutics (in partnership with leading UK universities and pharmaceutical companies), UCL Technology Fund, and Social Ventures fund – help to bring pioneering technologies from the laboratory to market, enabling academic entrepreneurs to tackle global challenges, from energy and engineering to healthcare and the environment.

For more information:

Ben Gascoyne


+447785 476 201