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Expert Day – Technopark Zurich

By Reik Leiterer and Gundula Heinatz, data innovation alliance

On the 24th of August, the data innovation alliance once again organized an Expert Day – this time at the Technopark Zurich, ideally suited for this purpose with its important role in the innovation ecosystem of Switzerland. Current challenges in the field of data science were addressed and the 50 participants were able to enjoy an exciting program with a keynote speech and parallel, subject-specific workshops.

In addition to several input talks, the workshops also included ideation sessions in which challenges were identified and possible solutions discussed in the context of the databooster program (powered by Innosuisse). As usual, the event was concluded with an aperitif used for a lively exchange between the experts – and all participants agree: Together we move faster.

The Expert Day was kicked off with a keynote by Kyle Alves (Senior Lecturer of Information Systems & Operations Management, University of the West of England), who presented experiences of creating the world’s first digitally traceable sandwich.  The Digital Sandwich project is a national demonstrator of a digitalized food supply chain, focused on sandwich manufacturing – relying on an integrated digital platform that fuses multiple industrial digital technologies (Blockchain, AI, IoT, Finance) into a single technology stack operating within a standard business ERP.

Of course, this is not a trivial process and thus Alves presented the interdisciplinary challenges they faced: in the areas of food production, land use, policy/regulation, food logistics, energy systems, consumer behaviour, and many others.

Directly linked to this topic, a Data Food Challenge was carried out (organized by Shaun West – Expert Group Smart Services) to illustrate the diversity of opportunities associated with the increased adoption of digital technologies in food chains.

The challenge team (see photo) dealt with topics such as the adoption of new supply chain technology by SMEs, what knowledge and skills are needed for sustained performance, or possibilities on how food supply chain performance can simultaneously meet ESG requirements and profitability targets.

As AI continues transforming all application sectors, discussions about its ethical implications and regulatory requirements are gaining a lot of traction. The workshop Machine Learning and Responsible AI took up precisely this current development. Organized by Ricardo Chavarriaga (ZHAW), Philipp Schmid (CSEM), Andrea Dunbar (CSEM) and the Databooster Focus Topic on Responsible AI, the current state of discussions on ethical implications and regulation of AI systems was presented, and the participants learnt about state-of-the-art techniques for explainability and interpretability. Next to enjoying the inspiring impulse talks about “Ethics, Operationalizing Responsible AI and regulatory compliance» and «Advancements in Interpretable AI for Healthcare: Paving the Way Towards More Reliable Computational Models”, the participants got the opportunity to discuss their specific challenges, meet potential partners and identify ideas to follow. Moreover, representatives of the Databooster program were present to help participants in receiving further support for developing innovative approaches and further research to address challenges in responsibly applying AI in real-world cases.

The workshop Hidden opportunities: Geo-spatial applications in the age of OpenData (organized by the databooster Focus Topic Spatial Data Analytics), had the aim to bring together experts from different fields to jointly identify needs and possible new approaches in the field of open data and geospatial applications. Impulse talks by Anne Wegmann about  the opendata organisation,

Florian Scheidegger (IBM Research) and Raphael von Thiessen about the KI Sandbox offered by the Canton of Zurich) and Michele Bolla about the GeoML use case developed by ERNI, showed how complex and diverse the topic of opendata is in Switzerland. In the subsequent Idea session, it became clear that there is still a lot of potential for development, especially in the linking of open data, the standardization and harmonization of meta-information, and the transformation of ideas into profitable business models.

The workshop Build a Cloud IoT System Using a RaspberryPi offered by D-ONE (Heiko Krömer, Stepan Gaponiuk) gave an interactive hands-on experience with the Internet of Things (IoT). Participants were able to set up their own end-to-end cloud IoT-system using RaspberryPi microcontrollers and following a brief theoretical introduction to RaspberryPi, a sensor to controller connection was realized.

The format convinced once again with very good speakers and open-minded participants interested in exchange and cooperation. We are already looking forward to the next event and a lively and active participation.

Smart Service Innovation for Adapting to the Pandemic Situation – Successful Smart Services Summit 2021

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By Jürg Meierhofer

On October 22, the expert group Smart Services welcomed worldwide top experts to the fourth Smart Services Summit. The focus was on how Smart Services allow firms to adapt in the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of remote and collaborative working have created new forms of co-delivery where customers are integrated into the service processes. Such a change requires a mindset change for more traditional firms as the service model migrates from ‘do it for you’ to ‘do it yourself’ or some mix of ‘do it together’. Considering service science, the switch makes perfect sense as it means that the full set of resources within the ecosystem are now being used rather than only a part. Services can be delivered faster and at lower costs with the support of new technologies and when working with the customer in a co-delivery mode. The changes are leading to new value propositions and business models today and will lead to an evolution in Smart Services in the future. The changes themselves must be understood, and we may need to consider new or different implementation and delivery models for Smart Services. These new working approaches may also requite use to re-evaluate both training and education.

Across the papers and presentations, it became apparent that digital service innovation has substantially changed and accelerated since the start of the pandemic. Customer needs and service processes have undergone dramatic disruption, which is still ongoing. A common thread throughout all the papers was the concept of the ecosystem thinking, which was discussed from a wide field of perspectives and in a comprehensive way. In line with the concept of the Service-Dominant Logic, the needs of the different actors in the ecosystem need to be identified and integrated into the design of the services and the integration of the various resources in the ecosystem. The ecosystem perspective not only integrates the different human actors, but also technological, digital resources.

Innovation through intensive collaboration allows to switch different perspectives and innovation approaches. This results in seamless value propositions and solutions for the beneficiary actors, which is a necessary prerequisite for economic value creation. Well-designed service experiences based on a consequentially customer-centric view and approach are thus at the basis of value creation.

This transition to digital service innovation in ecosystems requires not only fundamental changes of the technological platforms. In particular, collaboration across actors, organizations, and industry requires a new level of trust, culture, skills, marketing approaches and innovation frameworks.

Many thanks to all those who spoke at, and attended, the Smart Service Summit. A big thinks to IBM, data innovation alliance, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts for supporting the event.

Ask the Experts

New structure, new logo, new concept: the expert group “Machine Learning Clinic” is a unique pool of expert knowledge. Our last meeting aimed to connect experts willing to share their knowledge with companies in need of expertise to push AI-projects forward. Despite the hype around AI and deep learning of the last years, only a few deployed solutions are running in industry. Why is this? What are the missing bricks? One of the missions of the ML-Clinic is to overcome this gap between lab and real-world applications.

During registration we identified needs and experts on the following hot topics:

  • Data Management
  • Vision Inspection
  • Cloud Integration
  • Hardware / Edge-Processing

During a 90min virtual meeting we connected people, exchanged experience, and brainstormed about new ideas. With the new open-innovation initiative and the support from Innosuisse there are many possibilities to support companies on their ML-journey.

In a familiar round we discussed about real cases from Roche, Sulzer, SBB and others. One common issue is data quality, availability and working with rare scenarios. How to deal with missing, wrong or corrupted data. How to train robust neural networks based on such datasets. There is no easy solution but there are more and more ideas how to deal with these common industrial issues.

Beside the deep technology discussions another highlight was the “non-virtual apéro package” which all participants received before the event. Even though we only communicated through Bytes over a glass fibre everyone had a real chilled beer and some nuts in their hands – what beer would be better to stimulate the real neurons than the AI beer: DEEPER

Overall a successful event and we hope you tune in for the next get together of the ML-Clinic!