Estonian manufacturing companies will receive additional support from AIRE to increase competitiveness in foreign markets
AIRE (AI & Robotics Estonia), the centre of artificial intelligence and robotics, will offer training, consulting, and innovative tailored digital solutions for manufacturing companies, a package that cannot be found on the private market as a turnkey solution. The objective of AIRE is to increase the competitiveness of Estonian manufacturing companies in foreign markets.
Tallinn University of Technology leads AIRE, along with partners from the University of Tartu, the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tehnopol Science and Business Park, Tartu Science Park, and IMECC (Innovative Manufacturing Engineering Systems Competence Centre). The development of the AIRE centre has been supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications with nearly half a million euros, and its activities for manufacturing SMEs are carried out jointly by Estonian universities and science parks. Its cooperation partners are professional associations, clusters, chambers of commerce, banks, telecom companies, robot system developers, robot importers, and others.
One of AIRE’s important goals is to help companies find additional funding for the implementation of artificial intelligence and robotics development projects (via structural funds’ support, the reconstruction fund, the Horizon program, the DEP (Digital Europe program), and elsewhere.
According to Kirke Maar, the head of AIRE, its main idea is to bring universities closer to manufacturing companies, which in turn increases the applicability of teaching and research, and brings it in line with the needs of employers. “In the long run, AIRE will also help alleviate companies’ concerns about the workforce in “finding more skilled employees as production managers, engineers, IT specialists, and quality managers,” she said. “We are currently trying to take small steps by providing clear examples, through AIRE trainings, consulting, and demo projects, of how companies can collect, organise, and use data and AI solutions and robotics to manage and optimise production, control quality, make better use of energy resources, and reduce downtime. We are also very much looking forward to the ideas and proposals of the manufacturing companies themselves for cooperation, and we are planning a call for proposals for small projects at the beginning of 2022,” said Maar.
“One of AIRE’s first priorities is, from the university’s point of view, the networking and mapping of which data are exactly available in companies, or can be collected in the future. Then you can ask, what are the problems in the analysis of this data and the possibilities for applying artificial intelligence in creating a development advantage for companies,” said Professor Jaak Vilo, head of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu. According to Vilo, it is possible to think together about possible standard solutions and their providers, but also to identify problems where it is essential to involve applied researchers at the university and even start longer fundamental research. “Without an open dialogue, it would be difficult to know what one expects and the other can do, or where there are bottlenecks, and why ready-made solutions are not yet used,” Vilo emphasised.
Starting in 2022, AIRE will be Estonia’s link in the network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH). The knowledge, experience, and contacts of other European centres of excellence are also brought to Estonia from there.
Robotics training for manufacturing companies will start on 26 October, and will take place under the leadership of the top people from Estonian industry and science. Jüri Riives, a TalTech professor and founder of the Innovative Manufacturing Engineering Systems Competence Centre (IMECC), will lead the workshop. More information is available here: https://aire-edih.eu/yritus/?27983. You can register for the workshop until 22 October.
In the beginning of November, the AIRE Club will also start operating and serving as a community hub for exchanging information on development opportunities, best practices, subsidies, and the digitalisation of industry in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence. The first AIRE Club will take place on 3 November in Tartu and on 10 December in Tallinn (see aire-edih.eu for more details). The website also provides an overview of AIRE’s demo projects and plans for 2022.