In autumn, Estonian companies will get advice on the application of AI and robotics in manufacturing
On 1 October, the artificial intelligence and robotics innovation hub (AI & Robotics Estonia EDIH) will be established, which starts advising Estonian manufacturing companies on the application of artificial intelligence and robotics in product and service development. The innovation hub is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the activities are implemented by the Estonian universities and science parks.
According to Andres Sutt, the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, the innovation hub focuses on SMEs’ services that concern the development and application of digital technologies. “Companies need new digital solutions, which the universities actually already have: for example, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence and information security. It is now possible to bring together synergies between the knowledge and skills of the universities and the needs of the companies to develop prototypes and services,” the minister said.
Sven Illing, Vice-Rector for Entrepreneurship of Tallinn University of Technology, added that Estonian universities wish to support Estonian companies in creating innovation. “Tallinn University of Technology alone has more than one hundred business agreements in the amount of 10 million euros per year. With the AI and robotics innovation hub that is created by universities and partners, we focus our support on the digitalisation of companies,” Illing explained.
The University of Tartu contributes to the hub in the field of AI, big data and robotics. “Identifying the companies’ needs and, on that basis, mapping the recurrent problems and looking for solutions is a challenge for the university, but an inevitable step for finding synergy. Together with partners, we try to find combinations of our strengths to offer one common gateway for the companies to develop digitalisation and automation,” said Professor Jaak Vilo, Head of the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu.
“The motivation for setting up the hub is to bring universities closer to industry by offering innovative solutions to companies, special solutions that they cannot find on the private market – it may be the testing of new technology or software, data analysis methods, cloud solutions, preventive maintenance or the development of digital twins,” added Kirke Maar, Head of AI & Robotics Estonia.
The innovation hub will offer training and advice to
- help companies in the digitalisation of processes in the field of AI and robotics;
- develop robotics and AI demo projects;
- initiate cooperation networks to find additional funding for innovation projects.
Consulting is tailored to the needs of the companies and its impact on the digitalisation of industry must be clearly measurable.
The hub also plans to bring together customers and service providers, such as creators of artificial intelligence solutions, developers and suppliers of robotic systems and compilers of private-sector digitalisation strategies. It helps to assess the digital maturity of businesses and offers the opportunity to present solutions, technology and software prior to making major investments.
The hub is led by Tallinn University of Technology, with the University of Tartu, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tehnopol Science and Business Park, Tartu Science Park and IMECC OÜ as partners.
Professional associations, clusters, the chamber of commerce, telecommunications companies, developers of robotic systems, banks, robot importers, etc. are also involved as cooperation partners.
The artificial intelligence and robotics innovation hub is Estonia’s link to the network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH). The preparation and launch of the Estonian hub is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications as of 1 June this year. Another important objective of the hub, besides consulting, is to mobilise additional funding to support companies’ innovation projects (e.g. from the European Regional Development Fund, the Horizon programme and investors).
The preparations for and launching the innovation hub takes ten months and it will start providing services in October.
Jaak Vilo, Professor, Head of Institute of Computer Science, University of Tartu, +372 504 9365, jaak.vilo [ät] ut.ee
Kirke Maar, AI & Robotics Estonia, kirke.maar [ät] taltech.ee