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Loubna Bouarfa

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Loubna Bouarfa (born 26 June 1983) is a Dutch, Moroccan data scientist and founder and CEO of OKRA Technologies.[1] She is a machine learning scientist turned entrepreneur, and a strong advocate for diversity, women, and challenging the status quo.[2]


Bouarfa grew up in Meknes, Morocco. She then moved at the age of 17 to the University of Technology in Delft[3] to study electrical engineering and specialise in statistical signal processing. In 2007, Bouarfa embarked on a PhD applying Machine Learning to predict surgical workflow and detect anomalies in real time[4]. She applied her research directly to the operating table, predicting error and improving workflows.[5][6] In her PhD, Bouarfa discovered that AI provides a strong framework for evidence-based medicine, using data to improve outcomes directly in the real-world environment outside of clinical trials and widely used controlled healthcare studies.[5]


Bouarfa has founded OKRA Technologies,[7] a company which uses its machine learning platform to improve healthcare outcomes.[8] The OKRA AI engine is used by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies to transform complex datasets into evidence-based predictions, in real time. It was designed to equip Healthcare and Life Sciences professionals with the foresight to improve patient outcomes in the real-world environment.[9] Bouarfa has also applied the artificial intelligence platform in the field of social care in the UK. Through analysing 10 years of historic data, the AI platform identifies causes of unsuccessful foster placements and informs future decisions for improved placement stability.[10]

In 2016, after several years in academia at the University of Technology in Delft[3] and Imperial College in London, she was eager to implement her research on a commercial scale - this brought her to the Cambridge startup community.[11] In 2017, OKRA Technologies closed a $4.2 million Series A round.[12]

Bouarfa holds a number of advisory positions and is a member of the European Commission's High Level Expert Group for Artificial Intelligence[13][14][15], where she co-authored the guidelines for trustworthy AI[16] and the policy and investment guidelines[17].

Bouarfa has spoken about artificial intelligence at the EUROCONTROL AI and Aviation conference[18] and TEDxCambridgeUniversity[19].


In 2017, Bouarfa was recognised by MIT Technology as an Innovator under 35.[20] In January 2018, she was among the finalists for the award of entrepreneur of the Year by Women in IT,[21] and was selected as one of Forbes Top 50 Women in Technology.[22] In 2019, OKRA Technologies was awarded the Best Female-led Startup Awards from Startup Europe. [23]


  1. "Loubna Bouarfa". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  2. "Precision medicine". www.newelectronics.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Crunch Base".
  4. "Loubna Bouarfa | Delft University of Technology, Delft | TU | Department of Biomechanical Engineering". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Discovery of high-level tasks in the operating room". Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 44 (3): 455–462. 2011-06-01. doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2010.01.004. ISSN 1532-0464.
  6. Bouarfa, Loubna; Schneider, Armin; Feussner, Hubertus; Navab, Nassir; Lemke, Heinz U.; Jonker, Pieter P.; Dankelman, Jenny (2011-07-01). "Prediction of intraoperative complexity from preoperative patient data for laparoscopic cholecystectomy". Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. 52 (3): 169–176. doi:10.1016/j.artmed.2011.04.012. ISSN 0933-3657.
  7. "OKRA Technologies | Evidence-based AI Analytics for Healthcare". Okra. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  8. "Three Key Challenges for Wide-Scale AI Adoption in Pharma". Contract Pharma. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  9. "AI in the pharmaceutical industry: the fourth industrial revolution". Verdict Medical Devices. 2019-06-24. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  10. "Okra AI is helping foster kids find stable homes". Sifted. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  11. Hillier, David (2018-10-25). "So long, London: why startups are choosing to leave the capital". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  12. "Loubna Bouarfa". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  13. "High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence". Digital Single Market. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  14. "OKRA CEO helps shape EU governance of AI | Business Weekly | Technology News | Business news | Cambridge and the East of England". www.businessweekly.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  15. Kayali, Laura (2019-03-18). "POLITICO Pro Morning Tech: AI strategies — Terrorist content moderation — Dalton's new proposals". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  16. Anonymous (2019-04-08). "Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI". Digital Single Market - European Commission. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  17. Anonymous (2019-06-26). "Policy and investment recommendations for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence". Digital Single Market - European Commission. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  18. "ADS Advance - Inaugural EUROCONTROL conference addresses AI and aviation". www.adsadvance.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  19. TEDx Talks (2019-05-08), How AI Can Do Good - The Case for Choosing Uncertainty | Loubna Bouarfa | TEDxCambridgeUniversity, retrieved 2019-07-04
  20. "Loubna Bouarfa | Innovators Under 35". www.innovatorsunder35.com. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  21. "Media | Women in IT Awards". womeninitawards.com. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  22. "The Top 50 Women In Tech 2018". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  23. "Okra Technologies, Best Female-led startup". Startup Europe Awards. Retrieved 2019-07-02.

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