Alpha-I – which builds machine learning platforms working with some of the largest aircraft and component manufacturers in the industry – beat 11 other teams to be named champions of the manufacturing hack held at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, winning £10,000 and a partnership with Rolls-Royce.

The 12 teams – made up of engineers specialising in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science – were tasked by the engineering giant to tackle a real business challenge by looking at a collection of data, ‘cleaning’ it and creating a super-human decision-making engine to try and develop and enhance manufacturing processes at Rolls-Royce.

Alpha-I merged their expertise in predictive maintenance with data analytics to propel themselves to victory and were chosen as the winning team by a panel of Rolls-Royce judges at the event finale on Tuesday.

Alpha-I’s CEO, Giacomo Mariotti, said winning had been “a great validation” for the team, comprising chief technical officer Daniele Murroni, machine learning engineers Parvez Alam Kazi and William Tai, and software engineer Gabriele Alese. They will use the prize money as seed funding to help develop their winning solution into a proof of concept in partnership with Rolls-Royce’s Manufacturing Technology and R² Data Labs teams.

Mariotti said: “It has been a very tough 48 hours. We were here very late on the first night and came in early the next morning and I think we did a good job trying to work towards something we could achieve and squeezed in every tiny bit of detail in.

“The quality of the other teams’ work was really high and it feels great to have won. I think to some extent we knew what to shoot for and that helped us a lot. The aerospace industry is something we are very interested in and Rolls-Royce will be a great partner going forward. We hope this could be the beginning of something very interesting for us.”

Judge Caroline Gorski, Group Director of R2 Data Labs at Rolls-Royce, said the hack had been an extraordinary couple of days – attracting teams from across the UK and as far away as Belarus, bringing with them bucket loads of ‘dynamism, enthusiasm, intelligence and a difference in thinking’.

Both Rolls-Royce and the AMRC fielded home teams in the event, which was held at the AMRC’s flagship Factory 2050 facility. It was a hailed a success by Faizan Patankar, venturing and incubation lead for R² Data Labs at Rolls-Royce, who said he was keen to continue a relationship with the teams beyond the hack: “Everything I have seen over the last 48 hours is amazing. Let’s be clear, this isn’t a ‘Fight Club’. Whatever happens at hackathon should get out there. So go out there, share what you have done, and connect with Rolls-Royce outside of this event.”