Helena Theander
6 February 2020

AI centre: ‘Our aim is to strengthen Swedish industry and welfare’

​​​​​​​One year ago, AI Innovation of Sweden was launched in Gothenburg by around 40 partners to accelerate AI research and innovation. Today, the initiative has grown to include over 60 partners - and it’s fast becoming a key asset for the region’s business community.

Helena Theander, ecosystem and node manager for AI Innovation of Sweden's hub in Gothenburg, tells us about the past year, what's next and why AI capabilities are so important for both the private and public sectors.

Can you tell me briefly about the journey so far?

“The first year exceeded many of our expectations, where we initiated several initiatives at the same time as we were building and establishing the community. We started the Gothenburg node and created an arena for our partners to interact. The first version of our Data Factory was launched and is now used in several projects. Eleven collaborative projects involving in total 60 partners were initiated and received external funding.”

“In addition, a national network of nodes has been established besides Gothenburg - in Greater Stockholm, South Sweden and Örebro, and two more are on the way. We have established a network of significant AI researchers, advisors and influencers both national and international, and also strengthened the relations with leading international academia and research institutes.” 

What goals does the initiative have in both the short and long-term?

“The goals are to increase the use of AI in industry and public organisations, and by this strengthen the competitiveness of the Swedish industry and welfare. Our mission is to place Sweden on the international scene, as the place where you want to conduct your AI research and innovation.”

Why is the Gothenburg node an asset for the region’s business community?

“Gothenburg and West Sweden have a broad spectrum of large corporations in different segments, but with similar challenges. By working together and with the public sector we can learn from each other, as well as keep and attract the best people to this region.” 

“The Gothenburg node is a place to meet and learn from each other - by sharing workspace, discussing in workshops and co-developing in projects between industries and professions. Or just have a good time in the maker space. This is also the place to use the open data and the Data Factory.”

 

Official opening of the AI Innovation of Sweden
AI Innovation of Sweden was officially launched on 6 February 2019 in Gothenburg by founding partners from the private sector, public sector and academia. Photo: AI Innovation of Sweden

  

Why is it important that Gothenburg and Sweden have strong AI capabilities and how can we improve?

“The public sector in Sweden is meeting huge challenges in the coming years and AI is believed to be a prerequisite, in for example, future healthcare in prevention and early discovery.” 

“In the private sector, AI will be an important means for converging the business models into service-based business, as well as improving efficiency in production, maintenance, circular economy, and many other areas. Sweden is well known as a nation taking advantage of the opportunities yielded by digitalisation. But when it comes to artificial intelligence, we are trailing. And therefore it is a top priority for us to catch up on an international level to keep the competitiveness of the Swedish industry and welfare.” 

“We can improve even further by educating AI at both executive and operational levels, by sharing data sets and algorithms, sharing knowledge concerning tools, experiences as well as understanding legal issues.”    

What do you think will be some of the most important application areas in the future?

“Most AI solutions can be used horizontally through different kinds of organisations and market segments and it is not easy to comprehend what lies in the future.” 

“I believe that important applications are medical diagnosis and personalised health care, autonomous drive and efficient mobility solutions, smarter production and maintenance. But, as said before, AI will be of value and will change most business areas and industries, from finance to media.” 

Read more