Q&A with Helena Theander- AI Sweden
AI Sweden is a holistic programme to foster the development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications in Sweden. It is organised as a national centre for applied AI research and innovation with partners from the industrial and public sectors, research institutions, and the academic world. AI Sweden has initiated and runs a number of projects supporting AI research and innovations. It also provides a platform for collaborations, and technology/data infrastructure. Helena Theander is the Eco-system and Node Manager Gothenburg/West Sweden. Move To Gothenburg spoke to her about AI in Sweden and what makes our region an attractive professional destination for international talent.
Q- Tell us a bit about AI Sweden and what you are trying to accomplish.
A. AI Sweden is the Swedish National Center for applied Artificial Intelligence. Our mission is to accelerate use of AI for the benefit of our society, our competitiveness, and for everyone living in Sweden.
We want to serve as an engine for the Swedish AI ecosystem that fuels the Swedish economy and attracts leading global expertise intent on making a significant impact in their field. In practise this means matching partners with similar challenges, generating sharable knowledge and resources such as solutions, best practices, labs, infrastructure, models and tools that can be accessed by many, as well as attracting talents to the area.
We have nodes around entire Sweden. In Gothenburg we have a co-location arena with meeting facilities as well as a test bed for Edge Learning.
At the end of the day, we want to make our partners and the Swedish AI ecosystem mature.
Some of our founding partners in Göteborg are Västra Götalandsregionen, Astra Zeneca, Ericsson, Essity, Volvo Group, Volvo Cars, CEVT, Semcon, Volvia, Annotell, Recorder Future, TenFifty, Qamcom, Zenseact, Chalmers, Gothenburg University, KPMG, Embedl, Docu Sign, TietoEvry, Talkamatic, Viking Analytics.
Q. What are the key opportunities for & challenges in trying to integrate AI into industry and society?
A. AI is an enabler for streamlining operations, providing decision support and developing new services based on data. Examples can be energy savings, secure and personalised information driven healthcare, predictive maintenance, customer feedback, sales forecasts, optimisation of logistics, analysing information among decades of protocols, transcribing broadcasts, finding solutions in the area of climate change, democracy and much more.
Some common challenges are access to talent, immature organisations, adequate data, and legal aspects. We address these challenges in several initiatives.
The Edge Learning lab – a testbed at Lindholmen where both private and public meet to invest, develop, learn and share infrastructure, data, tools and models, especially on federated machine learning.....This is the first of its kind in the world.
Q. What are some of the AI projects that make Sweden/the Gothenburg region an interesting place for international talent?
A. The whole environment with cross-collaboration in the vast ecosystem of corporates, startups, hospitals, the city, the university and so on makes this a very energetic, interesting, fun and fruitful place to be.
Two especially interesting initiatives are:
- The Edge Learning lab – a testbed at Lindholmen where both private and public meet to invest, develop, learn and share infrastructure, data, tools and models, especially on federated machine learning. The test bed is digitally accessible – but it cannot beat the inspiration when sitting in the same environment sharing experience and solutions live. This is the first of its kind in the world.
- The pilot talent program, Eye for AI – a brand new trainee program, where the talent experience contributing to AI development in three different organisations during 18 month: a public hospital, and two private companies within pharma and automotive sector respectively. I cannot imagine a more interesting trainee opportunity for international talent.
Q. What is the kind of competence in AI that we need in this field at this point of time and what sort of talents should think of Sweden as an interesting place to apply for jobs as there are many opportunities for them?
A. In order to really develop and grow over the next few years we will need competence of various kinds. Here are a few examples of the professionals required:
- AI and vision specialist,
- AI Data management specialist,
- AI infrastructure hardware engineer ,
- experienced embedded software engineer,
- senior software architecture engineers and testers.
There is cross sector need for the above competencies in public as well private organisations. We feel that where we are in the journey makes Sweden/the Gothenburg region an exciting place for talent who really wants to contribute and make a difference.
Q. What are your top tips for companies trying to start their AI journey?
A. AI is here to stay and the earlier companies start their journey the greater benefit they can derive. My top four tips would be
- Make an assessment on your own current AI maturity by our new free web-based assessment tool (and get suggestions on what should be your first step).
- Involve both management, data curators and development roles in the process.
- Learn from others who started earlier
- It’s a journey – be sure to start with small steps and celebrate as you climb up the maturity ladder.
Q. What is your own driving force?
A. I want to contribute to making new technology used and valued in industry and society – for building a sustainable future in Gothenburg and Sweden. That has been the common denominator in my entire professional life.