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Companies and researchers publish roadmap together with TNO for implementing a national AI strategy

03 Dec 2018

The public-private partnership AINED, of which TNO is a part, published a document on 6 November 2018 to help the Netherlands achieve success in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and to pave the way for a national AI strategy. The report includes a wide range of measures that governments and businesses can take to help the Netherlands further its excellent standing in this field. A shortage of talent, for instance, can be obviated by making it easier for international students to extend their stay in the Netherlands after graduating. The Netherlands could also improve its collaboration in existing chains, develop a national AI research centre of high repute, serve as a catalyst for new businesses, and make better use of available data.

AI is a generic technology that infiltrates virtually all aspects of society. In a world in which countries are fully committed to AI and the advent of powerful new platforms, it's important to embrace AI in order to safeguard Dutch competitiveness and prosperity. The winner-takes-all effect is an important reason to make sure the Netherlands keep up with the latest developments. According to the study, the Netherlands is highly capable of meeting the legal, ethical, and technical requirements and translating developments into opportunities that benefit all Dutch citizens.

Overview of key findings

  • The Netherlands was an early player on the international AI scene, but has since lost its momentum, particularly in the field of scientific publications and research funding.
  • There is insufficient capacity to meet the growing demand for AI- students at companies and scientific institutions. There is also a serious threat of brain drain of successful AI-scientist.
  • Very few Dutch companies that focus on AI are seeing significant growth on the international stage. Many of those that do manage this end up in American hands (e.g. Booking.com, Euvision, and Scyfer). This can have consequences for data and technology ownership.
  • Many SMEs lack the necessary expertise to work with AI, and fail to identify the threats and opportunities, such as potential dependence on large platforms.
  • Unlike the Netherlands, some countries are investing more heavily in AI and have developed clearer strategies and approaches, which in turn generate higher investments.

Obstacles experienced by companies in making use of AI

BCG carried out its first large-scale study among a group of companies to identify their perceived obstacles to applying AI in practice. The respondents identified a lack of talent (23%), a lack of suitable data (20%), and regulation uncertainties (17%) as their biggest concerns. For example, some health-care data is not being properly shared, making it impossible to develop new products that could benefit patients, health-care providers, and companies. The respondents also believe that the government has failed to implement enough strategic activities to help improve the Netherlands' position with respect to education and open access to data.

Follow-up

AINED plans to spend the next few months extensively testing the proposed objectives and measures and develop an even broader coalition of companies, governments, scientists, and educational institutions. This preparatory work should result in an official strategic plan for companies and the government, which will be published on Conferentie Nederland Digitaal and which provides concrete footholds for all involved. 

AINED is a collaboration between TNO, VNO-NCW, TopTeam ICT, ICAI and NWO. AINED was supported by The Boston Consulting Group and Denkwerk.

 

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