Five Dutch companies including Ahold Delhaize, ING, KLM, NS and Philips aim to further boost the AI ecosystem in the Netherlands by accelerating and promoting the development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and nurturing AI talent in the country. This effort is designed to add educational capacity, foster the development of the AI community in the Netherlands and reiterate the position of the Netherlands as a competitive and relevant global AI hub.
The goal of Kickstart AI is to bridge the AI gap between the Netherlands and other countries, like the UK, the US and China, that have made notable progress in this area. In order to keep the country’s position as a pioneer and inventor of technologies, the Dutch government, organisations and universities have ground to cover in terms of structural investments and availability of global AI talent. The five companies 'kickstarting' AI are, for the first time, uniting forces in this kind of joint initiative and taking highly needed decisive action.
The five companies initiating Kickstart AI are calling for the critical expansion of local knowledge and talent in order to ethically implement AI that is focused not only on what is technically possible but also what is socially desirable for the Dutch society. Collaboration among these five companies, the government, industry and other technology providers will help address societal challenges, provide new opportunities for the youth and accelerate the introduction of AI in the Netherlands. For consumers, AI has untapped potential to transform their daily lives by elevating their experience with personalised service, convenience and choices in many areas of life such as health, travel and food.
Initiatives under Kickstart AI include:
- AI superchallenges: Competitions aimed at raising the Netherlands’ global profile by mobilising global AI talent to address societal challenges for example in the areas of health and mobility.
- Joint appointments: Investing in private-public collaboration through joint appointments of academic staff, providing access for the next generation of AI talent to education, training and leading academics. First commitment is to create five joint appointments to academic institutions in the Netherlands by each of the frontrunner companies in Kickstart AI, adding up to 25 positions in total.
- Dutch national course for AI: As part of a wider effort to increase understanding and adoption of AI in the Netherlands, Kickstart AI companies will not only promote the national course for AI among the general public and their own workforces, but also offer the course in English, aiming to secure sign-ups from a total of 170,000 people in the Netherlands by 2020.
Introducing Kickstart AI at the World Summit AI, Maarten de Rijke, professor at the University of Amsterdam and Director of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence, said: “The Netherlands has always been a technology pioneer, a frontrunner in AI development and innovation. The quality of our AI specialists is well-acknowledged worldwide. However, without a national AI strategy and swift action, the severe shortage of AI talent in our country remains one of the biggest roadblocks to realising the full potential of AI talent and technology. Our joint efforts as part of Kickstart AI underlines the urgency in accelerating AI education and talent retention and signals our commitment to collaboration and investments needed to accelerate AI innovation in the Netherlands.”
Ahold Delhaize, ING, KLM, NS and Philips are connected to the daily lives of millions of people through food, travel, health and finances. As organisations that are close to the lives of everyday Dutch society, they fully understand the game-changing potential for AI to improve everyday life in the Netherlands. This is why they have joined together in a call for action to their business and industry peers, to boost collaboration in creating a thriving AI ecosystem in the Netherlands for the benefit of end-consumers’ daily lives. The Strategic Action Plan AI (SAPAI) and a National AI Coalition that have also been announced are steps in the same direction and designed to collectively sustain the growth and competitiveness of the Dutch economy.
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