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The first “Battle of NLP Ideas” @SwissText

It has become rather difficult over the last two years for professionals to meet and informally discuss topics in their fields. Databooster is about bringing research and industry together so that new innovative projects in different data-intensive fields can be born. But how can we stimulate this exchange? The NLP Focus Group of the Databooster initiative (with Focus Group Leaders Mark Cieliebak, Philipp Thomann, Natalia Korchagina) addressed this challenge by organizing the first “Battle of NLP Ideas” workshop at the SwissText conference. The event was held on June 15, 2021 online.

About 50 NLP enthusiasts joined our virtual battle. The goal of this interactive session was to give stage to as many ideas as possible, multiplying the chances for the people with similar ideas to meet and possibly form an alliance. The final prize of the battle was a chance to turn your idea into an Innosuisse-funded project!

Our battle had several rounds. In the first round, the participants were split in small groups of 3 to 5 where everyone could pitch their idea to other member of the group in 10-20 seconds, and the most promising idea of each small group was selected by voting. In the next round, a small presentation of an idea was prepared by each group and then pitched in front of the members of other groups. The most promising ideas were discussed in more details with all participants. After three rounds and the final vote, we had our winning ideas:

• Fake-News detection
• Topic Segmentation and Classification in Multi-topic Reports
• Automatic Contract Generation

It has been an inspiring couple of hours. There is so much research potential and industry need in working NLP products in different domains, from journalism to ecology. To assist our winners in bringing their ideas to life, the focus group leaders organized follow-up meetings where the ideas were further developed, and their market potential was discussed in more details.

Fake News Detection API, capable to recognise fake news, has proven to be in huge demand. Three large Swiss media companies and two Swiss universities (FHNW and ZHAW) are discussing to collaborate. The plan is to start with an Innocheck which will be most likely followed by an Innosuisse application.

A first follow-up workshop on the Topic Segmentation idea showed that there is large interest from academia, but only limited significance to industry. Automatic contract generation did not receive enough support from the industrial partners after the first follow-up.

We wish all our participants to turn their ideas into real projects and keep our fingers crossed for the winners!

The next battle of NLP ideas will be fought at the upcoming SwissText conference in June2022. We are looking forward to seeing many fellow NLP enthusiasts joining the contest.