In the autumn of 2019, Business Tampere and eCraft Oy carried out a survey of artificial intelligence actors and their needs in Tampere Region, Finland. The aim of the study was to provide an understanding of the current state and to compile a concrete road map on how the ecosystem will be developed in the future.
Tampere currently has a “good buzz” and a lot of activities going on related to artificial intelligence. Examples include projects, events and collaborative research such as AI Morning and Tampere AI Hub. Individual companies are well on their way to utilizing artificial intelligence, but many are still considering it. As a whole, the field of artificial intelligence is still unclear and consists of persons rather than companies. Tampere University is seen as a key driver of the activity.
Understanding and communication were seen as major problems in utilizing artificial intelligence. Businesses do not know what artificial intelligence really means or what it can do. Artificial intelligence was seen as technical thing, not as a tool that also influences processes. People whose work is affected by artificial intelligence do not understand how to make the most of it. The “hype” surrounding artificial intelligence was seen as detrimental to the development of the industry. The field is also partially fragmented; pioneers have already overcome the problems that many other companies still face. Fragmentation was also seen within companies.
The task of the public actor would now be to change the focus of the discussion from hype to a more practical one, says consultant Kirsi Louhelainen from eCraft.
The need for co-operation was strongly highlighted by the companies in areas such as peer support, research co-operation, national and international co-operation, joint development and sharing of best practices. Many players were also looking for a clear place to look for information: who to contact, to see if there were suitable partners in the industry, to help employees identify their job potential. It was also felt that Tampere Region is not as well known for its AI knowhow, as it deserves. There could be more bold marketing. It would also be good to develop practices for sharing data, both between startups and large companies, as well as between the city and companies.
Goals and concrete steps for 2020
Long-term and short-term objectives were outlined based on the results of the study. The goal for 2020 is to increase knowledge and bring actors together. In addition, Business Tampere will look for themes around which functional ecosystems could be formed.
Concrete actions will include implementing an updated ecosystem map, sharing success stories from Tampere, and gathering all relevant information on a single website, says Business Advisor Minna Kinnunen from Business Tampere
Collaboration between actors will be fostered by sharing practical experience, supporting the building of AI capabilities in companies, and sharing data. Themes or focus areas will be identified based on the companies and their needs, and based on the focus of the City of Tampere. Focus areas are not necessarily purely artificial intelligence topics, but it may also be that some existing theme ecosystem needs an AI angle increase. Possible focus areas include e.g. industrial automation, construction, energy efficiency and safety.
In total, around 50 participants took part in the survey. The methods used in the survey were questionnaires, interviews, material research and stakeholder workshops. As part of the study, an international comparison of different AI ecosystems and AI Hubs was also conducted.
The results of the survey (in Finnish) can be downloaded here: https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/Tampereen_AIekosysteemiselvityksen_tulokset_6441
Business Advisor, AI and analytics
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