Australia will be the first country outside of Europe to hold the Women in AI awards, which will showcase the greatest talent in the sector.

Women in AI (WAI), formed in Paris in October 2017, is a global network of female experts and professionals working in AI, aiming to make the sector more gender-inclusive and to educate the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

It now has over 4,000 members across 115 countries, with 30 chapters.

It held the first European Women in AI awards in Paris last year, and now the inaugural awards for Australia and New Zealand will be held in Sydney next year.

“It’s no surprise to us that Australia is the first country outside Europe to hold the WAI awards...with over 4,000 members worldwide, Women in AI continues to kick goals,” Australian Women in AI Ambassador and Pat Inc CEO, Beth Carey, said.

Carey’s company Pat Inc offers a conversational AI platform that provides meaning to create human-like interactions with machines.

The startup was a finalist in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s XR Education Challenge.

The awards, culminating with a gala dinner at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on 23 February 2021, will comprise 11 categories covering a range of sectors, including health, mining, cybersecurity, defence and infrastructure.

The awards are open to female entrepreneurs in the AI field who have founded or co-founded a company with a working product that is based in Australia or New Zealand.

The company must be younger than five years old and have raised less than $3 million.

Eligible technologies include speech, image and video recognition, autonomous objects, smart automation, data monitoring, robotics, machine learning and the Internet of Things.

The awards will be judged in terms of the applicant’s innovation, global potential and impact, and the ability for their solution to do good for the community.

They will be decided by a WAI Awards Advisory Group featuring prominent experts and entrepreneurs in AI, including 3A Institute director Genevieve Bell, who will chair the group.

“I am deeply honoured to be a part of the WAI Awards, an event which celebrates diversity and recognises the incredible contribution of women in AI,” Bell said.

“Their determination has helped to break down barriers and their work has shaped our world for the better.”

Bell established the 3A Institute in 2017, focusing on the ethical development and management of AI, and is also the vice-president and senior fellow at Intel Corporation.

Australian National University Chancellor and former foreign minister Julie Bishop will also present the awards and is the patron of the advisory group.

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to bring great change to the world and it is vital that we plan ahead so that we capture the benefits while mitigating the disruptions,” Bishop said.

“Women in AI will play an important role in the coming years in guiding the development of this important technology and that is why I am delighted to be the Patron of the Advisory Group for the inaugural WAI Awards Australia-New Zealand.”

Entries for the first Women in AI Awards Australia-New Zealand will be open from 14 September.