Prolific has raised £25 million to help organisations harness human insights and feedback to improve and train their AI models.

The UK scaleup, an alumnus of Y Combinator in the United States and bootstrapped to date, aims to transform research by providing quick and easy access to verified and fairly paid participants.

The Series A round was co-led by global tech investment specialist Partech and Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE).

Prolific will look to build on the existing use of its platform by academic and commercial researchers around the world to connect with a large and unrivalled pool of vetted respondents. 

It will broaden its AI offerings and establish a stronger presence in the United States, home to over half of its current customer base, including industry giants like Google and prestigious institutions such as Stanford University. Prolific’s UK and European clients include the University of Oxford, King’s College London and the European Commission. 

Prolific was founded in 2014 out of a frustration with how hard it was to find reliable and genuine participants for online research. Existing tools were slow, expensive and participants were not always who they said they were. Prolific set out to change this and built a sophisticated research infrastructure applying technology to the sourcing, pre-screening, vetting, and paying of participants, as well as integrating research tools. 

Today, Prolific offers convenient access to over 120,000 active participants, enabling insights to be gathered swiftly from diverse and specialised groups. It has paid out over $100m to participants to date. 

The company says that as AI models and applications grow exponentially, the source of the data used to build and train these systems becomes incredibly important and feeds into issues emerging around accuracy, bias and copyright.

Prolific’s platform matches AI developers with engaged and verified people – not bots – to help improve and fine tune their AI applications, helping to address concerns over inaccuracy, bias and copyright. 

Demystifying Tech: Harnessing AI within your business – with Ben Grubert

Inevitable CEO Ben Grubert will discuss the rise of AI, the evolving regulatory landscape and offer practical tips for harnessing ethical AI into your business in BusinessCloud’s Demystifying Tech podcast webinar. You can sign up at the link above and submit a question for Ben below

    Select webinar

    Your question

    “I’m incredibly proud of what Prolific has achieved already. Our platform is providing trusted insights to enable world changing research, and we’re excited to bring these advantages to new markets,” said Phelim Bradley, CEO and co-founder. 

    “AI represents one of the biggest leaps forward in technology in recent years and our unique approach to data sourcing from humans positions us to make these systems more accountable and less biased. 

    “The funding we have secured will fuel our growth in the AI space, especially in the US, bolstering our commitment to human-guided AI development during this pivotal moment in the technology’s progression.” 

    Over 22,000 researchers have been active on the platform in the last year and a study is launched on Prolific every three minutes, the company claims. 

    With more than 100 employees, Prolific became profitable in 2020 and has since reinvested all capital into its growth.

    Omri Benayoun, general partner at Partech, said: “Prolific has built an incredibly powerful online platform for research. Its roots in academia means that it has applied the highest standards to quality, while its technical expertise brings innovation that sets it apart from anything else out there. 

    “Where others rely on manual recruitment methods, Prolific has built a research infrastructure covering everything from the recruiting and vetting of participants to integration of research tools. 

    “Prolific is poised to conquer global leadership in academia and is also perfectly placed to aid the development of AI.”

    Quantexa to open £85m AI innovation centre