Tehnopol AI bootcamp directed 190,000 euros to fund four artificial intelligence projects
The AI bootcamp run by the Tehnopol Science and Business Park gave funding for development to four projects by Tarmeko Spoon and Leanest, HUUM, Tervisetehnoloogiate Arenduskeskus, and Sporrong Eesti. A total of 190,000 euros was invested in pilot projects.
There were 14 teams working on their projects at the two-day bootcamp, and their work was led by experienced mentors and experts in artificial intelligence, who gave them intensive training. Project plans and the results of the work were presented to a panel of experts at the end of the bootcamp, and they chose which teams would receive around 70% of the funding needed to bring their AI to life. All the teams that took part in the bootcamp will be able to continue developing their projects in the Tehnopol AI accelerator. The next AI bootcamp will be held in August and participants from other sectors are welcome to join it alongside the industrial companies.
The head of business development at Tehnopol Martin Goroško said that Tehnopol was aiming to support world changing innovation, and AI is a clear source of pioneering ideas. Artificial intelligence can help companies to reduce error counts, boost efficiency, and save money. He admitted being a little doubtful at first about whether industrial companies would see artificial intelligence as important for their processes and able to create value for them, but the bootcamp showed that introducing artificial intelligence is very important for Estonian businesses as more than 20 applications for the bootcamp were received and 14 teams started work on their pilot projects during the camp. “The teams did wonderful work during the bootcamp and we chose four of them to receive funding, and they will receive a total of 190,000 euros to execute their AI-based pilot projects” said Goroško.
THE BIGGEST GRANTS WENT FOR IDENTIFYING DEFECTS IN VENEERS AND FOR RECYCLING ACID RESIDUES
The joint solution by Tarmeko Spoon and Leanest received 65,000 euros for development. Tarmeko Spoon wants to use AI in its processes to identify defects in its veneers, predict the quality of the veneers, and so optimise its cutting work. The production manager at Tarmeko Spoon Jaan Kraav said that the bootcamp far exceeded their expectations. “Our expectations were quite modest as we wanted to build teamwork and tie up some loose ends and to think through our challenges even better for ourselves. These two days proved much more useful than we could have expected though”. They next plan to sign a cooperation agreement with Leanest, order cameras, and plan the installation of the cameras, after which they can start to teach the AI. Kraav recommended that anyone who is thinking of using AI in business should attend the next bootcamp. “You have nothing to lose, but lots to gain”, he said.
Sporrong Eesti also received 65,000 euros to develop its solution. The challenge that Sporrong brought to the bootcamp was how to recycle acid residues using a new solution with an AI component that can do the laboratory work for reprocessing acid residues. they were supported in developing their solution by the University of Tartu. Member of the Sporrong management board and factory manager Tarmo Rannak said that the bootcamp had been an excellent challenge for the team. “The organisation of the bootcamp was super and gave us great conditions for focusing on developing our idea. I really must thank our mentor Pirko Konsa and our assessor Aleksandr Miina, who guided us and asked all the right questions. The whole bootcamp was very intensive for us, but we do not regret a single minute of our participation. Anyone who is unsure about whether to take part should certainly take the leap”, he said.
HUUM received 35,000 euros for its project. They are looking to create an AI-based system that can help predict fires in saunas. Development manager at the company Siim Nellis said that the bootcamp gave them a good chance to think about the flashpoints of fire safety in saunas. They want to help keep sauna heaters that do not meet the requirements and could cause fires out of the market. “It has been shown that the equipment made by HUUM is safe, but unfortunately we cannot say that about some other heaters on the market. We want to keep the people who are using those heaters safe as well”, he said.
Tervisetehnoloogiate Arenduskeskus received 25,000 euros to develop its WiseCow project. WiseCow collects and analyses data on the health and welfare of cows to identify cows that have become ill, give them timely treatment and prevent outbreaks in the herd. The AI development project focuses on automating the data analysis models. The leaders of the WiseCow project are the Estonian University of Life Sciences, TempID, Tervisetehnoloogiate arenduskeskus and the non-profit Estonian Dairy Cluster. The WiseCow project was presented at the bootcamp by Rait Rand, who said they were very satisfied with the bootcamp and now plan to move forward with their project into production.
USING AI IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY RELEVANT
Marily Hendrikson, AI and Cybersecurity Expert at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said she was pleased to see companies showing so much interest in the bootcamp and that the challenges and solutions were very exciting. “We are currently in a unique position as a country as we are attempting simultaneous digital, green and innovation revolutions. this event will certainly contribute towards that by promoting fast development of AI, and it is good to see that industrial companies are so ready with their problems and their solutions”, she said. Alongside the AI development programme of Tehnopol, she pointed to the AI and Robotics Estonia hub AIRE, which focuses on the private sector in industry and supports faster development across a wide spectrum of businesses.
Lauri Antalainen from Digiwise was one of the assessors in the bootcamp, and he analysed whether AI solutions were appropriate for companies in their current state of development. He said that teams had come to the bootcamp with very ambitious, but still realistic, ideas. “Some companies have worked out very precisely what the results of their pilot project will change, and what its economic impact will be. I am very happy to see that companies have a clear understanding of why they are participating in the bootcamp”, he said. “AI is becoming increasingly important and manufacturing companies have understood this. Data must be used and automation is vital, and the AI component is very important in this”.
Meelis Bergmann, head of FLIR Systems Estonia and a member of the panel of experts, noted that the challenges and solutions brought by the participants were very different in how ready they were and how they used the AI component. He added that the panel wondered why some projects had not already been done, pointing out that “if the payback time is a couple of weeks, a couple of months, or even a year, then the payback is 100%. Who would not want to invest where there is a 100% return?”. He added that it was very interesting to sit on the panel of experts and find out more about the projects. “All the projects were great, and I really hope that most if not all of them manage to produce a real solution and make it to market”, he said.
Challenges were brought to the bootcamp by: Yanu, Sporrong Eesti OÜ, Saint Gobain Glass, Hilding Anders Baltic AS, Tervisetehnoloogiate Arenduskeskus, Tarmeko Spoon, Estiko Plastar, Tiksoja Puidugrupp, Haapsalu Metall, Maxima Eesti OÜ, YEAR AS, Ericsson Eesti, HUUM, Flagmore, and Bisly.
Solutions were developed by: Tartu Ülikool (IMS labor), Ektaco, Leanest, Tooreal, Thorgate, Alas-Kuul, IMECC, Envelope, MindTitan, Demec CNC, and TalTech.
THE NEXT BOOTCAMP WILL BE IN AUGUST
The AI bootcamp was part of the Tehnopol AI development programme, which consists of two bootcamps, two rounds of funding for pilot projects, and an AI accelerator programme. The next bootcamp and round of pilot funding will be held in August this year. The AI-focused accelerator programme will run from March to September for companies wanting to bring their AI solutions to market. This gives a good opportunity to participants in the first bootcamp, and also to those who want to prepare for the funding round in August.