Promoting AI education, talent and innovation

ING, KLM, NS, Phillips and food retailer Ahold Delhaize have announced the launch of Kickstart AI, a series of initiatives to promote and grow the Dutch artificial intelligence sector. By accelerating the development of new technology and supporting talent, it aims to improve education in AI, nurture the local AI community and raise the Netherlands’ profile as an international hub in this growing field. 

Helping the Netherlands catch up with the competition

The Kickstart AI programme aims to bridge the gap between the Netherlands and other countries with strong artificial intelligence industries, including China, the UK and the US. To accomplish this goal, it will bring together the Dutch government, private organisations, businesses and universities to develop investment and talent. 

The companies behind the programme believe it can help solve societal challenges, provide new opportunities for young people and advance the rate that different industries (including food, healthcare and finance) can use AI to improve the lives of consumers. 

To accomplish its goals, Kickstart AI will include the following initiatives:

  • AI superchallenges that will use competitions to raise the Netherlands’ global profile encouraging international AI talent to tackle different challenges faced by society in areas like healthcare and mobility. 
  • Joint academic appointments of professors and associate professors through public-private partnerships, ensuring the next generation of AI professionals have access to the training, education and pioneering thinkers needed to succeed. Each participating company will be responsible for five appointments at Dutch universities, creating 25 new positions. 
  • A national AI course to increase the knowledge of AI throughout the Netherlands and help people accept its use. The course will be targeted at the general public and the staff of companies participating in the programme. Currently, Kickstart AI aims for 170,000 people to register for the course (which will also be offered in English) by the end of 2020.

Achieving the full potential of AI talent and technology

In a statement about the launch of Kickstart 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 technological pioneer, a forerunner in the development and innovation of AI. The quality of our AI specialists is recognised worldwide. But without a national AI strategy and rapid action, the serious shortage of AI talent in our country remains one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the full potential of AI talent and technology.”

Amsterdam’s expanding AI scene

Kickstart AI has the potential to deliver another boost to Amsterdam’s healthy AI industry. A combination of investment from city authorities, a skilled workforce and partnerships between startups, multinationals and researchers have helped the city develop a global reputation for excellence in AI.

Currently, the City of Amsterdam and the UvA are working together on creating a world-leading AI hub, which is planned to be up and running by 2021. This new centre will serve as a base for researchers and students from the university and provide them with a valuable link to research institutions and the private sector. 

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