AN INVENTION by a postgraduate student at Southampton University was valued at a record-breaking £770,000 at a Dragons’ Den-style event.

Iris Kramer was offered investment of £70,000 in her ‘deep learning’ tool to help developers identify where archaeological sites are likely to be.

The Future Worlds accelerator event also saw investment offered in two other start-ups from Southampton students, bringing the combined total valuation of their businesses to more than £1.1million.

Iris Kramer’s invention, ArchAI, is the first in the world to apply artificial intelligence to the detection of archaeological sites.

It uses data from laser scanning and satellite imagery to work out the likelihood of a given location containing an archaeological site. Ground work can then confirm its report.

The investors rewarded Ms Kramer’s pitch with the biggest valuation in the event’s history, funding her so she can focus on product development, sales and marketing.

She said: “Receiving this offer of investment has brought me much closer to achieving my vision of disrupting the commercial archaeology market.

“Having spent years during my PhD honing my technology, I’m excited to work with the Dragons to save time and costs for developers and protect our archaeological heritage both in the UK and internationally,” she added.

ArchAI combines its inventor’s expertise from her masters in archaeological engineering and her PhD in machine learning, both at Southampton University.

The 27-year-old doctoral student made her pitch from 200 miles away in the Netherlands, where she is staying with her grandmother during the Covid crisis.

She was pitching to investors in the UK, France and Jersey.

She said the need to identify archaeological sites was a source of costs and delay for big infrastructure and development projects.

“It’s a legal requirement before any construction can take place, they have to do all the archaeological research. That takes six to 12 months and it’s a long time before they can start building anywhere,” she added.

The event also saw aerospace engineering Dimitris Stoidis attract a pledge of £20,000 for his business Future Brew, a carbon-negative approach to brewing beer, which uses surplus bread as a main ingredient.

Southampton law graduate Avila Chidume raised £15,000 for her business Kutenda, an online marketplace that celebrates the inclusion of underrepresented groups.

Ben Clark, Future Worlds director, said: “Future Worlds Dragons’ Den 2020 has seen immensely talented founders meet committed and supportive multi-millionaire investors to launch audacious startup adventures. I’m inspired by how the ambitious students have battled through this year’s challenging process in lockdown to seize life-changing opportunities and reach for international success.”