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Peter Eriksson

AI Centre in Lindholmen to put Sweden on the map

A globally leading collaborative environment for artificial intelligence. This is the vision for the new AI centre in Lindholmen Science Park, which will be inaugurated in the autumn of 2018, and will help Europe to climb onto the global stage with regard to research into AI.

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A globally leading collaborative environment for artificial intelligence. This is the vision for the new AI centre in Lindholmen Science Park, which will be inaugurated in the autumn of 2018, and will help Europe to climb onto the global stage with regard to research into AI.

Europe has fallen behind

The government’s ambition is for Sweden to be the best in the world at taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digitalisation. But when it comes to artificial intelligence, we are far behind, something that is also articulated in the national strategy recently presented by the government, which aims to outline the future direction of this area. The strategy is based on an assessment carried out on Sweden’s AI capabilities by the innovation agency Vinnova. The assessment identified a number of problem areas, among them a shortfall of expertise in the field.

The United States currently is at the forefront of development into AI, with China following second. But it is not only Sweden that has a way to go – all of Europe has fallen behind in the field of AI.  

“With this innovative approach to establishing a data factory and massive investment from a number of companies and social contributors, I believe it is possible for us to have a world-class AI centre with an international reputation that will help Europe move up on the international stage,” says Eriksson.  

"We cannot be the best in the world at everything in such a far-ranging field as AI, but we can lead a few areas – if we work together. A key question in this has to do with collaborative platforms. And the reason we are here today in Gothenburg and at Lindholmen is that there has been an impetus to collaborate and create open collaborative platforms that are able to attract talent, knowledge, commitment and resources from companies that wish to play a part."

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Dennis Nobelius

Incredibly rapid development in AI

One of the initiators behind the centre at Lindholmen Science Park is Dennis Nobelius, CEO of Zenuity, a joint development company of Volvo Cars and Autoliv developing software for autonomous vehicles.

“There is incredibly rapid development in AI, and it is linked to the immense computing power and large volumes of data existing today. But there is a wide gap in terms of access to this data and how we work with it purely methodologically,” says Dennis Nobelius.

He explains that the need for a greater number of AI researchers was clearly recognised last summer after Zenuity had been up and running for some time. In order to ensure survival over a five- or ten-year period, these ideas began to be discussed, and a number of companies from Gothenburg, Västra Götaland County, Chalmers, Gothenburg University and the government, got in touch relatively soon thereafter. Since then, efforts have focused on how to best complement the AI environment already existing in the country.  

“Wallenberg’s fantastic contribution is focused on research and is quite broad. We are focusing on application across all sectors linked to data sets. We allow companies to provide data to a data factory, where we develop methods on an infrastructure and make it available to researchers from all sectors. This is what enables us to cross-pollinate and get something bigger out together.”

A test lab in an AI environment

The arena will be open to individuals and teams from academia, industry and the public sector working in AI-related research and innovation in fields such as technology, finance, life science, healthcare, medicine and civil service.

So, a test lab in an AI environment?

“Precisely. We will have an environment and an arena that are open and based on the collaboration between academia, businesses and the public sector. Herein lies our strength and we can already see that there is considerable international interest in what we are creating here.

Vinnova is investing SEK 50 million per year into the new AI centre for a period of ten years. On the condition that matching funding is realised. In addition to Zenuity, dozens of other companies and social players have joined the venture, including the two Volvo companies, Japanese Fujitsu, AstraZeneca, Capcom, Veoneer, Recorded Future, Stena Line, Annotell, CGI, RISE and Region Västra Götaland.

“And many more on their way in, this is just the beginning. We will now codify this data environment together. Everything will be finalised by autumn,” says Dennis Nobelius.

“We are also very grateful to Lindholmen Science Park for their open-handedness and for allowing us to take the lead on this. They are an impartial host with extensive experience in overseeing national initiatives.”

The precise location of the AI centre has not yet been determined, nor has the number of people who will be working there.

“I think we’ll probably know this by autumn. Right now there are a dozen businesses involved and that number is increasing dramatically. The biggest question is probably how much space we will need so that anyone wanting to research this data is able to do so. But these are happy concerns,” says Nobelius with a smile.

Lindholmen a very popular area

The fact that this national venture is being undertaken in Gothenburg and at Lindholmen Science Park speaks volumes about the approach here and the things happening in the Gothenburg region, according to Henrik Einarsson, Head of Establishment for Business Region Göteborg.

“Lindholmen is a very popular area and many companies are collectively investing in future solutions. Digitalisation is one of the key aspects and the new AI centre confirms our willingness to jointly invest in this in order for us to continue to develop and strengthen our innovative power. Right now, Sweden has not quite reached a world-class level in AI, so it is incredibly important, strategically, that we join forces to catch up.”

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