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Today, as part of World Students’ Day, we are celebrating our inspirational Data Science Director, Dr Rodrigo Pinheiro.

Rodrigo, who has over 15 years experience in computer science and artificial intelligence, started the OptifAI product journey by studying for a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham in 2013.

During his PhD studies, Rodrigo was recruited as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Research Associate and was selected to work on a two-year KTP with Webroster Ltd,  (previously owned by NDGAI CEO, Nigel Gittins), focusing on improving workforce utilisation.

KTP is a nationwide government programme geared at helping innovative businesses benefit from the UK knowledge base by giving them access to knowledge, technology and skills at universities and other research organisations.

The KTP was set up to provide Webroster access to high calibre academics and to give the university access to real-world commercial situations that they could base cutting edge research on.

The two organisations embarked on the partnership to tackle the previously unsolved challenge of optimising homecare workforce utilisation. They achieved this by developing an optimisation engine to solve any workforce management scenario involving rostering and map routing.

Nigel Gittins, NDGAI CEO said: “The partnership worked really well because we were able to bring state-of-the-art academic knowledge to the company when developing the algorithms, servers and user interface.”

The project was awarded an outstanding grade by Innovate UK and resulted in several peer-reviewed scientific articles being published as well as Rodrigo speaking about the subject at international conferences.

Following the KTP, in 2016, Rodrigo graduated from his PhD and was employed as the Head of Data Science at Webroster Ltd. He was responsible for the management of the technical development of’s optimisation engine (OptfAI), big data, analytics and data science projects.

In March 2020, Nigel Gittins, then CEO of Webroster, sold the business and started a new company NDG Artificial Intelligence Ltd, so he and Rodrigo could focus on the optimisation engine.

Now NDGAI provides game-changing artificial intelligence algorithms, which significantly enhance rostering software solutions, enabling end-users to provide the highest level of quality and efficiency.

Rodrigo is part owner of NDGAI and is employed as Data Science Director. He is responsible for creating and maintaining the software engine that makes OptifAI work. He is also responsible for the online servers that host the technology.

Rodrigo’s passion, enthusiasm, and years of research and studying have enabled him to produce pioneering software solutions which have enabled the health and social care sector, and other industries, to provide more service with fewer resources. This offers a solution to the recruitment issues and increased workloads faced by the health and social care sector.

Rodrigo prides himself on his ability to find solutions to a variety of challenges faced by field-based worker organisations.

Here is what Rodrigo had to say about his studies and achievements;

“It is truly rewarding when you spend so much time studying, researching and generating new knowledge, and, in the end, you can bring that novel knowledge and technology to the masses, helping people and making a difference.

“When studying for any degree we are faced with many different modules and subjects. At many points during my academic career, when learning certain subjects, I thought to myself ‘this is completely useless and too niche, I will never use this’. It amazes me to think of how many times I was wrong about that and how many times I ended up using those skills.”

World Student’s Day is typically celebrated every year on 15th October. This day is dedicated to all students and pays tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former president of India who always encouraged learning and education and inspired students to always give their best. More information on World Students’ Day can be found here

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