AI Finland 2020: Finland’s own Silicon Valley could drive future AI - Business Tampere Magazine
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AI Finland 2020: Finland’s own Silicon Valley could drive future AI

Paneelikeskustelu AI Finland -tapahtumassa. Viisi miestä istuu tuoleilla.
Kuva: Mirella Mellonmaa / Business Tampere

 

As long as we keep developing our special expertise and focus on the fields where we truly excel, Finland will continue to be one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence. In order to succeed, we also need widespread collaboration. These were two aspects that all speakers at the very first AI Finland event concurred with.

The AI Finland 2020 virtual conference, organized on 30 September 2020 by Business Finland, Business Tampere and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, brought together businesses and AI researchers. With over 800 participants from over 50 countries listening to the presentations, the event was a major success. Next year, the event will be hosted by the City of Espoo.

Practical examples make AI application easier

Alexander Törnroth, Head of Finland’s Artificial Intelligence Accelerator, presented the newly-published ‘State of AI in Finland’ report at the event. According to the report, many companies feel unsure about the practical applications of AI. Events such as AI Finland 2020 play a crucial role in showcasing practical examples of AI use and allowing easy networking between involved parties.

Chief Digital Officer Juha Latvala from Insta gave advice on how to get to a running start with data utilization. He reminded the audience that the process resembles a marathon rather than a quick sprint. You have to take a systematic approach and focus on practical steps instead of chasing castles in the sky.

In his keynote, Tero Ojanperä, Chairman of the Board at Silo.AI, presented several examples of why organizations should utilize AI and how the technology improves people’s everyday lives. For instance, AI can be used to identify individual medical treatment paths for patients, predict peaks in energy consumption, cut down CO2 emissions and improve water purification processes.

“During the past couple of years, we have witnessed a major leap in the ways that major Finnish corporations have started to apply technology and artificial intelligence. While there is also plenty of potential in the small and medium enterprise sector, I feel a bit worried about whether SME companies are adopting these new possibilities quickly enough,” Ojanperä noted.

He also encouraged platform thinking in business operations. Platforms promote interaction between various stakeholders while the company itself is able to build up useful data.

”In the consumer front, supply and demand have been successfully connected in new, innovative ways in many industries. Companies like Amazon and Airbnb are prime examples of this. In the B2B space, we are just picking up speed. Companies can benefit from more actively combining artificial intelligence and best practices introduced by the platform economy.”

Students set to extend AI’s footprint and impact

The panel discussion at AI Finland 2020 focused on the cooperation between businesses and higher education, a field in which the Tampere region flourishes. The latest know-how must quickly flow from the academia to companies.

”While Europe conducts high-quality AI research, many experts go and work for US-based companies. Boosting interaction between companies, the public sector and the research community could be our ace in the hole in the fight for top talent. We could be the next Silicon Valley. It’s a daring idea, but our ambitions must be set high,” said Professor Petri Myllymäki from the University of Helsinki.

”The best way to transfer knowledge from research to business, and vice versa, is through people. Even more important than our skilled professors are the thousands of students that inject the latest information to companies after their graduation,” commented Heikki Huttunen, Associate Professor at Tampere University.

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