The Otherworld Project - Barbara Melville

Founded in 2019 by Barbara Melville, an award-winning linguist specialising in inclusive language, the Otherworld Project changed its name from BiaScan in 2023The company’s software detects and corrects unconscious bias in various document types, such as job descriptions, policies, and marketing documents.

The Otherworld Project - Barbara Melville

A strong, bias-free job ad can lead to diverse and creative hires. By using their text-analyser software on both internal and external documents, organisations can transform their work cultures to promote belonging, innovation and productivity. Staff aren’t just recruited; they stay and they thrive. 

An excellent scanner requires excellent data, and this is where the company’s approach is innovative. Much of their data is curated by hand, by experts in inclusive linguistics. The software taps into the best evidence, drawing from documents, and crucially, also creating their own by listening to real people with lived experience of disadvantage. Lastly, ethical use of machine learning and artificial intelligence is broadening the company’s scope.  

Through their Resident Entrepreneur project, BiaScan – now trading as The Otherworld Project – explored creative datasets focussing on language. They also delved into multiple fields, including theatre, creative writing, and journalism. Not only did this research result in new additions to their scanner’s database, but it also inspired various new ideas which continue to feed into their software development. 

Barbara Melville, took part in the Resident Entrepreneur programme and CI’s Innovation Showcase in 2021 and 2022. The company achieved real growth during the Resident Entrepreneur programme and completed their MVP before making headway in incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence into their work.  

In 2023, the Otherworld Project was awarded funding from CI’s Participant and Alumni Creative Tech Fund. They used this award to update software and equipment which improved accessibility arrangements within their working space. The grant also supported the purchase of new software and cloud services, giving Barbara and the team a platform from which to demo their software and retrain the A.I in the future. 

New partnerships with the University of Glasgow and Thriving Autistic, a neurodiversity not-for-profit organisation, are helping them to further develop their software, which his due for release in 2024. 


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