Looking back on the ICAI Day

On Thursday, 22 April, JADS and ICAI hosted the first ICAI Day. The event gave participants a bird’s eye view of the state of affairs in the Netherlands around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and focused on the collaboration between academia and industry. Published on jads.nl at May 4, 2021

3rd anniversary of ICAI

The ICAI day marked the 3rd anniversary of the ICAI initiative. The National Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) has the mission to keep the Netherlands at the forefront of knowledge and talent development in AI. ICAI acts as a national network on technology and talent development between universities, industries and government in the area of AI.

Connecting knowledge and practice in AI Labs

ICAI facilitates intensive collaborations between knowledge institutions and industry in the shape of AI Labs. “The ICAI labs give knowledge institutions the opportunity work closely on research questions that are relevant for industry and can yield practical results. Challenges and practical cases of organizations are the input for research of the academics. It is a collaboration with ongoing interaction and working together to gain new insights, experiment on site, and validate the outcomes. This approach proves to be very appealing: in the past 3 years, we’ve grown from 3 to 25 AI labs,” says Esther Smit, Business Director of ICAI.

Responsible AI lab at JADS

One such lab, the Responsible AI Lab, was established at JADS in 2020. The overall objective of this lab is to facilitate the use of AI technology by the industry in a responsible way. To achieve this, a team of JADS experts collaborates with KPN to develop transparent, privacy aware, and personalized AI solutions for businesses, that exploit the power of AI to create value from data.

ICAI Day: inspiring and diverse

In last Thursday’s ICAI event, the JADS/KPN Responsible AI lab was featured prominently. In an extensive interview, PhD candidates told about their challenges and findings within the Responsible AI Lab. Other elements of the program were breakout sessions in which six of the ICAI locations gave an impression of their AI labs, and the AI Startup Talkshow, that explored the intersection of AI and entrepreneurship and gave startups the opportunity to present themselves to the public. The afternoon was hosted by Nathan de Groot, online facilitator, day chair and trainer. “It was great to see all the work of the different locations being presented together in one place which gives an amazing overview of the work that is going on in AI research.”, says Esther Smit.

ICAI: propelling the Netherlands into the future of AI

Liesbeth Leijssen, director Business at JADS, adds: “We are proud to have hosted this valuable event. The partnership with ICAI is immensely valuable for JADS. We see a key role for ICAI in propelling the Netherlands into the future of AI and the digital transition. Not just in the field of education and AI, but also when it comes to supporting startups. This is a key collaboration for JADS, now and in the future.”

Event streams

Have you missed the event or do you want to watch again? You can find the video streams here.

Livestream for ICAI Day

The ICAI Day will start on April 22 at 14.00 hrs. To attend the plenary part, you can go to the livestream without registering. To take part in the breakout sessions you have to register. Registration is free and open to everyone!

Go to the livestream.

Register for the ICAI Day.

We look forward to see you there!

ICAI: Challenges and ambitions from two perspectives

Three years ago a couple of scientific researchers had an idea: stimulating AI talent in the Netherlands with bottom-up innovation and a lot of relevant stakeholders. ICAI was born. Now ICAI is growing significantly. It has 24 labs and is aiming at 40 to 50 labs by the end of 2022. What has ICAI achieved so far? And what are the challenges and ambitions? A view on ICAI from the perspective of lab manager Elvan Kula and scientific director Maarten de Rijke.

Elvan KulaLab Manager and PhD student at AI for Fintech Research lab (a collaboration of TU Delft and ING)

“It would be a nice

opportunity to perform studies

across ICAI labs.

Accomplishments

‘The first year of our lab was focused on bootstrapping AI for Fintech Research, which involved setting up the tracks, hiring people, organizing publicity and establishing awareness within ING. We have successfully set up a lab with 10 PhD students. In the beginning we had to make the stakeholders at ING aware or our lab and how we contribute to the company. Now, a year later, I feel like we have reached the sweet spot within the organisation where the stakeholders come to us with their own research ideas and ask if they can collaborate.’

Organizational challenge

‘As a lab manager I bring many different groups of collaborators together. I identify research opportunities, in close collaboration with engineers, researchers, students and professors from ING and TU Delft. One of the main challenges is managing important logistical aspects of the research projects in our lab. While research can be very unpredictable, our stakeholders at ING do want to have a clear plan on the deliverables and the timeline. As the lab manager, I plan and manage these expectations to deal with the unpredictability in research.’

Future challenge

‘One of the main challenges of our lab is scaling AI’s impact across the bank. The current research projects in our lab focus on standalone use cases that create impact for a specific team or department at ING. In the upcoming years, we want to work towards diffusing and scaling AI throughout the bank. Achieving results at scale requires us to deal with some technical challenges related to legacy systems and the fragmentation of data.’

Innovation

‘The main advantage of doing research within industry is that you get access to real world problems and large amounts of real world data. It allows us to do research that has practical applications and that is truly impactful. In the context of ING there are close to 14 million customers, 15.000 engineers in more than 600 teams. We have the opportunity to do research that helps thousands of people. Another benefit is that we work closely with a lot of people at ING that have much experience in the world of industry and business. We can learn a lot from them and they learn a lot from us.’

Expectations

‘Advances in AI are redefining the way the financial services sector is using data analytics and new technologies. With millions of customers and thousands of employees worldwide, the expectation is that AI will play an increasingly important role in ING’s business and operations. As the lab manager, I want to continue to strengthen the partnership between ING and TU Delft to support the ongoing transformation of the bank.’

Focus of ICAI

‘It would be a nice opportunity to perform studies across ICAI labs. The PhD students in our lab work on a range of topics, such as software analytics, data integration and fairness in machine learning, that are relevant to other companies as well. It would be very interesting to replicate our research in other ICAI labs and see how our findings relate to the results obtained at other companies.’


Maarten de RijkeCo-founder and Scientific Director of ICAI

“What I want to leave behind is

the attitude that making relevant

technological progress is a

shared responsibility.

Accomplishments

‘I’m really proud of the energy that ICAI has been able to generate and continues to generate. We are a supersmall team and we want to stay small. But by now, there are 24 labs and over 150 researchers throughout the country involved. And it’s all their initiative. We just facilitate it. The labs have created new ways of working, new ways of tackling problems and new types of teams. ICAI has a minimal but important set of requirements. First: Take care of your talent, the PhD students. And second: Take care of your environment, so share the knowledge and publish openly. And people do that in really creative ways. With training programs for professionals for example. Or with big industrial lab setups.’

Organizational challenge

‘Our dream, based on bottom-up innovation happening, has been an experiment. You think up a format and you adjust it as you go along. The challenges had to do with: how big should this be? How can we manage this? How do we organize communication? How do we make sure that it’s as open as we want it to be, while also providing enough benefits for early stage investors?’

Future challenge

‘The first step within ICAI was to get the resources so that we can attract and train talent. Now we’re at the stage that we need to think about how we can retain the talent. As our first labs begin to graduate their PhD students, we want those PhD students to find their next step somewhere in the country. For that we have created the Launch Pad. We want to open up the window so that they all see that plenty of interesting opportunities are nearby: in industry, at start-ups, NGO’s, government, academia. Their talent and expertise are needed everywhere.’

Innovation

‘The new thing that we do with ICAI, is making innovation and high-risk investment a shared responsibility. What we want to change is that companies too are investing in high-risk early stage research that is in a very low technology readiness level. Innovation is not just something governments needs to think about. We all need to think about this. This whole development is also about making sure we have enough capability and capacity so that we can build and come up with innovative solutions to tough problems in the Netherlands. It’s about building and maintaining a decent level of technological autonomy. And that goes against big developments of the last decade that were focused on outsourcing. But I think that for this kind of AI technology where so many answers are still unknown, you have to experiment yourself. Because you have to have enough knowhow and talent. Otherwise you’re going to end up making big mistakes.’

Focus of ICAI

‘We have always had a strong focus on technological and economic impact. We still continue to have that focus, but in the long run our goals aren’t technological. They aren’t economic. They are societal. Our technological ambitions are aligned with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). These societal goals are extremely hard and require high-risk investments by all stakeholders involved: government, industry, knowledge institutes, society. This has been in the ICAI DNA from the start. Our labs on AI and health or AI for retail or agriculture obviously contribute to these SDG’s. But the same holds true for our labs that focus on AI for better machine perception, with less data and higher precision. And we recently opened our Responsible AI Lab, the Civic AI Lab and the Cultural AI Lab. That’s where we’re heading. Empowering teams of private and public partners to help address those big challenges with the knowledge and talent that we develop.’

Text: Reineke Maschhaupt

AI-RONDO: Greater control over Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s using apps and avatars

Speaking more softly and poor articulation could be an indication of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or that these conditions are worsening. Radboud University, Radboud university medical center (Radboudumc) and imec, partners in OnePlanet Research Center, are using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse signs of this kind. The aim is to detect the disease at an early stage. They are also developing digital aids, such as apps and avatars, for patients already suffering from these diseases, so that they receive an indication at home that the disease is changing and care providers can intervene in time. The institutes are now setting up a new ICAI lab to this purpose: AI-RONDO (Risk Profiling and Decision Support). 

“There is already a lot of data on patients suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which are two common disorders of the brain. By using AI algorithms and models on this information, we can find new links and for example pinpoint groups facing an increased risk of developing complications. Using these enriched data we are able, following diagnosis, to prescribe treatment for a patient specifically designed for their personal risk profile. We can also analyze those signs – such as speaking more softly, articulating less clearly, a change in walking patterns or heart rate – that indicate that something is going wrong,” says Marjan Meinders, one of the lab’s three academic directors. “On the basis of a sign like this, a care provider can prevent further deterioration.”

Digital Tools

AI-RONDO will use digital tools to collect data in the home situation and to provide the patient with customized personal advice. For example an app linked to a bracelet that provides an analysis of how symptoms changed over the course of the day, linked to the taking of medication. Or an avatar, a virtual assistant that engages in conversation with the patient while simultaneously collecting new data on the progression of the disease from their speech. Meinders: “This extra support – in addition to regular care – offers patients more information on and a greater understanding of their own health. This means they have greater control and are able to delay the disease’s progress themselves.”

24th ICAI lab

The research is being conducted in ICAI’s AI-RONDO lab. ICAI (Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence) is a national network that focusses on technology and talent development between knowledge institutions, industry and government in the field of AI. AI-RONDO is the 24th ICAI lab in the Netherlands and the second in which Radboud University, Radboudumc and imec, partners in OnePlanet Research Center, are collaborating. In February this year, they set up the ICAI lab AI for Precision Health, Nutrition and Behavior along with the 4th partner Wageningen University & Research.

Partners

OnePlanet Research Center wants to stimulate innovations in the Dutch province of Gelderland and works closely with industry and societal organizations from the region. Several regional partners are already involved in AI-RONDO, and the research team cordially calls on other interested parties to come forward as well. The current partners are: ANT Neuro, Artinis Medical Systems, imec-NL, InfoSupport, NIVEL, Noldus Information Technology, Orikami Personalized Healthcare, ParkinsonNet, Stichting Open Spraaktechnologie and Virtask.

More information on AI-RONDO

Second Utrecht University AI lab joins ICAI network

After the success of the National Police Lab AI, now the second Utrecht University AI lab joins ICAI: AI & Mobility Lab. Utrecht computer science researchers launched this second AI Lab in January 2021. The new lab focuses on the themes of mobility, transport and logistics. The researchers work with partner organisations NS, ProRail and Qbuzz, to link, strengthen and further expand research into mobility issues.

Transport organisations, distributors and public organisations encounter major challenges, to which AI research can contribute. Public transportation, shared mobility, road traffic, logistics and human movement behaviour raise issues about safety, robustness, accessibility, travel time, health and such. In the AI & Mobility Lab, Utrecht computer science researchers will collaborate with various organisations to develop innovative AI techniques for challenges in mobility and public transportation.

Important role for AI research

Mobility is in full swing. Cities are especially getting busier, and because of increasing concern for sustainability, alternatives for privately-owned petrol or diesel cars are becoming more and more important. Commuters will increasingly use combinations of different forms of mobility and public transportation. Public transportation is becoming more electrified and is expected to play a crucial role in future transport.

Artificial intelligence will make a strong contribution to these developments. There are important challenges in managing and controlling vehicle and passenger flows, infrastructure planning, and the development of new tools and platforms for matching supply and demand such as MaaS (Mobility as a Service). Researchers in the AI & Mobility Lab will work on data-driven techniques, operations research, algorithms, human-centered AI and agent-based simulation.

Marjan van den Akker, coordinator of the AI & Mobility Lab: “The challenges of our stakeholders are complex and require a state-of-the-art approach. Where needed, we collaborate with researchers from different disciplines. By developing knowledge and techniques together, we strive to make a strong societal impact.”

Education

In addition to research, the AI Labs of Utrecht University also play an important role in education for professionals, and programmes where students work together with professionals.

Read more on Utrecht AI & Mobility Lab

e/MTIC AI-Lab becomes fourth TU/e ICAI Lab

In the field of healthcare, AI still has several issues to address. In hospitals, professionals are still hesitant to employ AI-based techniques because of lack of transparency, interpretability and clinical evidence.

Through the e/MTIC AI-Lab, AI will be made available to work in close collaboration with the clinical staff and MedTech industries to help improve personalized treatment. This lab has now also joined ICAI and is the fourth TU/e ICAI lab. ICAI is a network of Dutch research programs that is designed to bring together researchers in the field of AI. e/MTIC is a unique collaboration between Eindhoven University of Technology, Catharina Hospital, Maxima Medical Center, Kempenhaeghe Epilepsy and Sleep Center and Philips to enable a fast track to high-tech health innovations.

AI techniques mostly act as a black box without knowing precisely what part of the data is being used and how. Furthermore, AI tends to be specialized and lacks robustness when small changes to existing procedures are required. In these cases, human doctors are still much better able to handle the complexity of the situation. However, that does not mean that the work of humans is always correct, but they are able to weigh up when it is necessary to ask for help from someone else, for example, something AI cannot do today.

New Healthcare Systems

In healthcare, systems are continuously evolving and the ability of specialists to fully understand the complex inter-relationships of the various components is becoming more difficult. It will be particularly important for this information to be organized, not just using new forms of presentation such as virtual reality and digital twins but also by linking models of information to predict what the doctor should see next.

These new systems must be designed in a manner to protect people, the environment and the economy. ‘Responsible AI’ is a term that is usually applied to dealing with consumers or private individuals. For healthcare, this encompasses responsible use and storage of sensitive personal data, but also promotion of patient empowerment, avoidance of harm and bias, and protection against misuse.

E/MTIC ICAI Research Focus

Many of the e/MTIC researchers are currently working on and implementing analysis techniques and (prediction) algorithms for improved (patient) monitoring and diagnosis and to help optimize individual treatment strategies in collaboration with many medical specialists. Due to the many complexity and heterogeneities in medical data, these approaches and other innovations will be further developed, implemented and automated through projects in e/MTIC. The research focus is on robustness and improved stability of algorithms and methods.

In the e/MTIC ICAI lab, AI will be mainly used for the following application areas:

  • Imaging: strongly enhanced Ultrasound, MRI and CT imaging by embedding task-adaptive AI across the imaging chain
  • Patient monitoring: strongly enhanced monitoring of vital signs both in clinical and in extramural settings
  • Clinical decision support systems: Use AI to combine various data streams (e.g. EMR, images, spot checks) to produce explainable and patient-specific advice, early warning and alarms.

The academic directors of the lab are professors Frans van de Vosse and Jan BergmansCarmen van Vilsteren is the lab manager.

Fast Track to Clinical Innovation

Given that the main purpose of e/MTIC is to provide a “Fast track to clinical innovation”, Artificial Intelligence is an extremely important instrument to support this goal. Both in clinical decision support in general, and in-patient monitoring and image analysis in particular, novel AI techniques provide powerful approaches to identify patient deterioration at an earlier stage, diagnose conditions more accurately, better guide treatment, and improve secondary prevention.

Eindhoven Medtech Innovation Center

Bringing technical innovations all the way from early research to implementation and commercialization can often take a long time. In healthcare innovation, in particular, this lost time can often equate to lost lives. The goal of the Eindhoven MedTech Innovation Center (e/MTIC) is to create and expand an ecosystem that strongly increases the speed of high-tech health innovation, maximizing value for patients. We consider such an ecosystem to be an unmet need and a unique opportunity for the Brainport region to make significant contributions to visionary new developments in healthcare.

e/MTIC is a large-scale research collaboration between the Catharina Hospital (CH), the Maxima Medical Center (MMC), Kempenhaeghe Epilepsy and Sleep Center (KH), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Royal Philips Eindhoven (RPE) in the domains cardiovascular medicine, perinatal medicine and sleep medicine. The partnership has evolved over several decades, has a strong scientific and valorization track record and currently encompasses around 100 PhD students, supervised by a similar number of experts from the various partners.

Find out more about e/MTIC AI-Lab

ICAI Day – The Program

Date: Thursday April 22, 2021
Time: 14:00 – 16:15 CET
Location: The online event will be recorded and streamed, live from Den Bosch.

On April 22 we celebrate our third birthday with the first official ICAI Day! Together with JADS, we hereby present the program. We will take you on a virtual tour to meet the various ICAI locations where you receive an update about their activities and research. Multiple start-ups will present themselves and at the end of the event you can meet and mingle via virtual drinks.                          

14:00Welcome by host Nathan de Groot
Introduction by Maarten de Rijke, scientific director of ICAI
14:20Interview with JADS and KPN on Responsible AI Lab
14:45Break out round 1 – three ICAI locations to choose from: Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Nijmegen
15:20AI Startup Talkshow: Techleap, Bluetick and Seedlink
15:45Break out round 2 – three ICAI locations to choose from: Eindhoven, Wageningen, and Delft
16:15Wrap up and virtual drinks at Gathertown, possibility to talk with start-ups of different locations

This day is for everybody interested in ICAI or parts of the program. So do not hesitate to forward this event to all people who would like to take a look behind the scenes at ICAI.

Find out more about the ICAI Day and program here and subscribe here.

We’ll see you there!

ICAI Day – Save the date

Date: Thursday April 22, 2021
Time: 14:00 – 16:15 CET
Location: The online event will be recorded and streamed, live from JADS.
Subscription link

On April 22 we celebrate our third birthday. With great pleasure we invite you to the first official ICAI Day!

Together with JADS (Jheronimus Acadamy of Data Science) in Den Bosch, we plan to take you on a virtual bus tour along the various ICAI locations, labs and partners.

We offer you a diverse and interactive program with (video) pitches, breakout sessions, table interviews, and a start-up talkshow. Host of the afternoon will be Nathan de Groot, online facilitator, day chair and trainer.

This day is for everybody interested in ICAI. So do not hesitate to forward this event to all people who would like to take a look behind the scenes at ICAI.

Find out more about the ICAI Day and program here.

We look forward to see you there!

Second LTP AI Matchmaking Meetup

NWO has recently published a call for Long Term Programmes (LTPs). The strategic aim of an LTP is to provide a powerful and long-term stimulus for the development of a scientific field in the Netherlands, focusing on a societal theme and/or key technologies.

ICAI is leading an effort to build a consortium for an LTP around AI with the title: ‘Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence-based Systems for Sustainable Growth.’

The program’s ambition is to help drive growth through AI-based solutions that are sustainable environmentally (through reduced computational and data requirements), industrially (through talent and tool development), and societally (through fairness and transparency).

The LTP offers the possibility to focus on specific application areas of AI, such as: Energy Transition & Sustainability; Agriculture, Water & Food; Health & Care; Security; Financial Services; Mobility, Transport & Logistics, etc. It builds on the thriving ICAI network of academic-industrial collaborations.

We are looking for both academic and industry partners to join this initiative. This is why we will organise a second LTP Matchmaking Meetup on 12 March 2021, 14:00 – 14:30h.

This meetup will be a shortened version of the first matchmaking meetup held on 11 February and will be a general introduction to the LTP, aimed at those who are interested in the possibility to be part of the consortium.

Meetup programme:

14:00 Introduction of the LTP program + R&D goals
14:10 Application areas + what are we looking for & what can we offer
14:20 Q&A

Sign up for participation here.

ICAI Interview with Rinke Hoekstra: ‘Academics help seeing the big picture.’

Rinke Hoekstra, Lead Architect at Elsevier, is Industry Director of Discovery Lab. This ICAI-lab, a collaboration of Elsevier, University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, kicked off in April 2020. Hoekstra: ‘Within Elsevier this is already seen as one of the most successful collaborations with academic partners.’

You’re the Industry Director of Discovery Lab. Can you briefly explain what your role is?

‘My role is to intermediate between the company and the partners. I make sure the lab is not overloaded by requests from the company. The lab members have to do research, but as a company, we have to make sure the research is of use to us. That’s a tension. We have to find a good trade-off there.’

What are the challenges involved with that?

‘I communicate the relevance of the lab for the company. The company as a whole is used to deal with a one-year-horizon, but the outcome of the lab will take years. A lot of people in the company don’t think in these terms of long- term innovation. It’s all very academic to them. Another challenge is bringing interesting problems to the academic partners. It’s quite challenging to make sure that we find the right nuggets of data within the organization that are of use to the researchers to play with.‘

‘Our customers are researchers. We feel that it’s our job to help them do research’

How is the lab working out so far?

‘The PhD researchers and the Elsevier data scientists just hit it off and started working. They created a very convincing story in their presentation during the internal kick-off of the lab. I see that internally this is already seen as one of the most successful collaborations with academic partners. The other Elsevier research collaborations are typically at a higher level. They have a couple of meetings every year and then the researchers go off and do their research. But in this lab the data scientists are really working together with the lab members in a self-organized way. They are also bringing in master students who do their research with us. We are creating our own little community. If you don’t have that shared community, you will never have a good collaboration.’

What was the motivation of Elsevier to enter this lab?

‘Our customers are researchers, either in academia, R&D companies or health. We feel that it’s our job to help them do research. We can sell products so they can do their research better, but we can also directly collaborate with them. It is a good opportunity to do research that we don’t necessarily see within our own organization.’

‘We have a longstanding collaboration with Amsterdam Data Science. And we saw this opportunity to work even more closely with our ADS partners. It is so interesting to work with these people. Frank van Harmelen is clearly one of the world leaders in terms of knowledge representation and reasoning knowledge graphs. Paul Groth’s work on provenance and learning knowledge graphs from structured information is well regarded. Maarten de Rijke is obviously big in information retrieval. And the group of Max Welling in machine learning: all world-class researchers. On other universities they have maybe one or two of these fields covered. It is very rare to see that combination in one place.’

What is the most interesting thing about your job?

‘I stay very close to academia and to that kind of free and open thinking. As a lead architect within Elsevier I work with the same technology and problems, but the context is very different. So it’s good to have this more open context where you can freely discuss ideas without somebody saying: ‘what’s the use case?’.’

At the ICAI Lunch Meetup of February 18, 2021, Rinke Hoekstra will present Discovery Lab. More info and sign up here.