Brussels loves AI

Why Brussels is the best place to open a European HQ for tech companies.

A recent report from EY shows that 2018 was an absolute record year for attracting foreign direct investments (FDI). A total of 278 foreign investment projects were initiated, representing a 29% increase on the previous year and creating an all-time high number of jobs (7,363). With this increase, Belgium is going against the European trend. More than 1500 international companies’ HQ are now already established in Brussels. The capital of Europe has everything a company needs: an open economy, business incentives and services, a strong infrastructure, and a talent pool of multilingual, highly skilled professionals in all sectors. Being the world’s 2nd most cosmopolitan city and located at the crossroads of Western European cultures, this is actually not very surprising.

Belgium has also essential assets regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI). 
It has a tradition of world-class AI researchers, some of whom were at the cradle of artificial intelligence. Additionally, Belgium ranks 9th in the “Digital Economy and Society Index” within the EU with a society that largely embraces AI as a novel and promising technology rather than a threat.

The Brussels Region had a pioneering role in AI since long before it became a buzzword, hosting, for instance, the first academic laboratory dedicated to AI in Europe at the University of Brussels. The most active research groups are The IRIDIA laboratoryThe AI Experience Centre  and The Machine learning Group

Hugues Bersini

Prof Dr Hugues Bersini, founder of the AI lab of the ULB

 

Ingrid Daubechies

Prof Dr Ingrid Daubechies, The most cited Belgian mathematician, recognized for her study of the mathematical methods that enhance image-compression technology

 

Belgian employees are among the leaders in the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace. 54% of employees are already confronted with artificial intelligence at work or expect this to happen in the next two years. The Belgians are also predominantly positive about the use of AI at work. More than six in ten say that AI has a positive effect on their productivity. 

The Brussels Region also supports companies in their AI endeavours, both from innovation, technical, finance and a business point of view.

  1. Innoviris, the Brussels Region funding body, has been providing significant support to AI-related research and innovation, steadily ramping up its support programs in this field, with a dedicated budget of € 20M over the past 2 years. In particular, an AI call (“Team Up”) aimed at fostering collaboration between academia and industry was launched in 2017. This program reflects the Brussels Region approach to AI development, which emphasises collaborative research and open innovation.
  2. For the technical aspects, one can mention the leading role of Sirris Brussels, through its Elucidata laboratory, and of the Icity.Brussels technology hub, both co-funded by the Brussels Region and ERDF
  3. The finance.brussels group SRIB/GIMB aims at providing financial support for the creation, reorganisation or expansion of private companies located in the region. In addition to investment, they support entrepreneurs in all phases of their company’s development. BRUSTART provides financial solutions to young innovative companies that are in the launching or starting-up phase. It supports technological innovation through the seed-capital fund, which is directed towards spin-offs.
  4. As for the business aspects, the Region Brussels Capital launched in 2017 the Nexttech.brussels plan coordinated by hub.brussels and gathers main entities involved in AI in the Region. Moreover, hub.brussels and its cluster software.brussels provide tailor-made support and advice.

 

One other important aspect of the Brussels is their support for the Tech communities. The Region expects to continue building on the success of the Data Science Community, made of AI experts and practitioners. This community counts several thousand members and organizes more than a hundred events per year and one European Data Innovation Summit.
The region has co-financed a dedicated tech and starter Hub called DigitYser where communities can gather to boost their digital skills and raise awareness on AI and data literacy. 

DigitYser also is the regional driver of AI4Belgium the community-led approach to enable Belgian people and organisations to capture the opportunities of AI while facilitating the ongoing transition responsibly. AI 4 Belgium has the ambition to position Belgium in the European AI landscape. We are currently assisting the newly elected government to define their AI strategy based on the European recommendations.

The Brussels’ AI strategy is based on 6 pillars

  • Data literacy and AI training for all
  • Support R&D and promote innovation
  • Setting up a responsible data strategy and promote open data
  • Promote the use of AI in the private industries & SME’s
  • Promote the use of AI in the public sector
  • Position Brussels as the driving AI city of Europe 

More skills development is made possible with the development of new training programs, namely with the Microsoft AI School, the Big Data Bxl and AI Black Belt initiative.

3 tech hubs are promoting AI actively:

  • Becentral – The digital campus of Brussels
  • Betacowork – Coworking and Community for freelancers & entrepreneurs.
  • DigitYser – The home of the AI & datascience community in Brussels

Brussels and Antwerp are in the top 15 hubs of artificial intelligence talent in Europe, according to a new report from the international venture capital firm Atomico. That is one of the conclusions in ‘The State of European Tech‘, a new report from venture firm Atomico and the Finnish tech conference Slush published in 2016. Atomico and Slush use LinkedIn data as a source for their conclusions. To be more precise: cities with the highest amount of LinkedIn members with AI skills.

Our main argument is that Brussels is also a very pleasant place to live and a family-friendly environment blessed with a welcoming heart. A business city teeming with opportunities, but also a relaxing home, ideal for enjoying life’s sweeter side. Lying at the crossroads of Western Europe’s cultures while being home to so many citizens from all over the world definitely makes Brussels a human-sized global city where local culture and cosmopolitanism get along perfectly.

So in summary here are the top 7 reasons to put Brussels in your shortlist:

  1. Located in the centre of Europe, 
  2. Low cost of living and high quality of life,
  3. Available AI talent at an acceptable price 
  4. Top universities and innovation programs, 
  5. Practical Regional & Federal support, 
  6. Very active AI communities and expert groups
  7. Tech & starters’ hubs to host and support your new venture  

Looking at this it is not surprising that Brussels has become the best place to open a European HQ for a tech company.

 

About the author: 

Philippe Van Impe is the driver of the AI & data science community of Belgium, the founder of DigitYser – the tech & starters’ hub of Brussels and a business coach for companies who wants to start their European HQ in Brussels.

 

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Bruxelles accueille le 5e sommet de l’intelligence artificielle

Le Disummit, le rendez-vous organisé par et pour la communauté belge travaillant sur l’intelligence artificielle (IA) et la science des données, se tiendra mercredi sur le campus du Solbosch de l’Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Environ 900 personnes sont attendues pour cette 5e édition placée sous le thème “Être humain à l’ère de l’intelligence artificielle”. Si cet événement est d’abord à destination des entreprises et des professionnels du secteur, il s’ouvre à moindre coût aux étudiants et à des tarifs réduits au grand public. Une trentaine d’exposants, parmi lesquels Hub.brussels et des leaders technologiques comme Accenture, Fujitsu, IBM et Microsoft, présenteront leurs derniers produits. De plus, 40 intervenants animeront des conférences, et 12 master classes ainsi que 12 ateliers pratiques permettront d’aller plus loin en s’attardant sur certains projets. Invité de premier ordre, Luc Julia, responsable de l’innovation chez Samsung qui a travaillé sur Siri, la commande vocale d’Apple, viendra parler de son livre “L’intelligence artificielle n’existe pas”, dans lequel il préfère parler d’intelligence augmentée développée grâce à des outils de traitement de données, qui permettent de prendre de meilleures décisions. Il y aura également Stephen Brobst, Chief Technology Officer de la société Teradata qui a conseillé l’ancien président américain Barack Obama sur les questions relatives au big data. Il abordera quant à lui la gestion des biais dans les données.

Le Disummit vise à créer un pont entre l’académique et le business en informant le management des grandes sociétés sur les possibles de l’IA et les académiciens sur les attentes actuelles dans le secteur. “La Belgique a toujours eu de très bons résultats dans toutes les sciences quantitatives par rapport aux autres pays“, estime l’organisateur Philippe Van Impe, fondateur et CEO de l’ASBL DigitYser. “Elle a donc les compétences requises pour aborder cette vague de l’intelligence artificielle, mais elle ne doit pas se tromper de cible et bien choisir ses batailles. Elle ne peut pas se battre contre les grands centres américains de recherche et développement comme Google ou Amazon.” “Je propose de se battre avec des armes propres, pour une intelligence artificielle éthique, en permettant à tous ces outils d’intelligence artificielle développés ailleurs d’atterrir dans l’espace européen, qui est probablement le plus complexe au monde avec les différentes langues, les différents niveaux de gouvernement, les réglementations multiples…“, poursuit Philippe Van Impe. “Avec son approche pragmatique qui lui permet de toujours arriver à un compromis, la Belgique a les atouts pour devenir le point d’entrée des Américains, des Chinois ou des Indiens sur le marché européen“. Philippe Van Impe remarque de plus que le cadre européen qui a été posé pour commencer à régenter le respect de la vie privée et l’éthique dans l’intelligence artificielle peut réfréner des pays qui n’en disposent pas ou peu.

BELGA

Persbericht: diSummit 2019 het jaarlijkse event van de AI4Belgium en DataScience community

De vijfde editie van de diSummit vindt plaats op woensdag 26 juni aan de universitaire campus van de ULB, en start om 8.45 uur. Het thema is: ‘Being Human in the Age of AI’.

Philippe Van Impe, Founder en CEO van DigitYser is de drijvende kracht achter de diSummit: “Vorig jaar stond het thema ‘demystifiering AI’ centraal, en benadrukte we het feit dat de de universiteiten VUB en ULB al meer dan 30 jaar actief zijn op het gebied van AI. In 2017 was ‘Data4Good’ het hoofdthema: hoe kun je data gebruiken voor een betere wereld?”

Dit jaar zijn er voor de diSummit inspirerende internationale sprekers uitgenodigd zoals:

  • dr Luc Julia: verantwoordelijk voor innovatie bij Samsung, en medeverantwoordelijk voor de ontwikkeling van SIRI.
  • Stephen Brobst: CTO bij Teradata, en voormalig raadgever van president Obama

De presentaties en workshops tijdens het event zijn verdeeld over 7 tracks, 40 presentaties en 30 workshops. Tevens is er jobfair waar bedrijven nieuwe krachten aanwerven. Daarnaast zijn er een dertigtal exposanten zoals hub.brussels, icity.brussels, en technologische topleiders zoals Accenture, BCG Gamma, IBM, SAP, SAS, Micropole, Microsoft en PwC. Kortom, de diSummit2019 is een unieke gelegenheid om je AI en data science kennis te verdiepen en te netwerken met de ruim 800 deelnemers.

De diSummit wordt dit jaar afgesloten met de uitreiking van drie AI awards:

  • AI startups of the year
  • AI scaleup of the year
  • AI personality of the year

Meer informatie:

  • Wat:          Data Innovation Summit
  • Waar:        ULB Gebouw K, Solbosch
  • Wanneer:  26 Juni 2019
  • Tickets:     Press Pass
  • Website:   disummit.org

 

 

We made it ! +742 participants are now on board ! #disummit2019

All Aboard !

We are so pleased to announce that we already reached the same level of participation as last year.
Looking at the feedback, there are three reasons why you & your team should attend:

To inspire your team with real live business cases.
To learn new techniques and develop new ideas in the workshops.
To meet opinion leaders and be part of the AI4Belgium initiative.

Join us for this community driven event & check our website to get the best deals.

See you next Wednesday at the ULB. Get your discount ticket !

 

 

3 interviews to inspire you !

Interview with Nathalie Smuha

Interview with Tom Lenaerts

Interview with Nathanael Ackerman

Your turn now : 3 questions about the state of AI & Ethics

During the speaker dinner we asked our panel and the public present at the event 3 questions about AI & Ethics.

We want to encourage you to also reply to the question that got the most replies and you can do it by visiting the link below

Europe is considered to be way behind USA and China in terms of AI race. How do you see the possible contribution of Brussels and Europe to AI development?


DiSummit 2019 in a nutshell and why it’s a place to be on June 26th!

On June 26th the AI4Belgium & Data Science Community will hold their 5th annual Summit. You can expect a day packed with innovative ideas and discussions, lots of networking opportunities and perhaps most importantly a chance to have fun with professionals from a wide array of backgrounds.

Read the interview 

 

DiSummit 2019 in a nutshell and why it’s a place to be on June 26th!

Interview by Tatiana Donets with Philippe Van Impe

On June 26th the AI4Belgium & Data Science Community will hold their 5th annual Summit. You can expect a day packed with innovative ideas and discussions, lots of networking opportunities and perhaps most importantly a chance to have fun with professionals from a wide array of backgrounds. .

This is already the fifth time you organise the DiSummit. Why did you decide to dedicate this year edition to the theme of « Being human in the age of AI »?

Philippe Van Impe: Last year we developed the theme of « AI demystification », showing that in Belgium we have been active in the AI domain for over twenty years and lived through two AI winters already.

The year before we were focussing on « Data4good initiatives » (or how we can use data to build a better world).

Taking into account what was going on at European level (for example the work of Natalie Smuha coordinating a European agreement called Draft Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI), as well as different local initiatives such as #AI4Belgium, it was natural that the human side of AI would get a podium this year.

In my opinion it is a good, positive theme that will promote AI and explain that it is not a “dangerous” thing.

What will be the main topics covered during this edition?

Philippe Van Impe: We will mostly focus on how to drive ethical AI into business and corporate world. We will also host the AI-awards – showing that today Belgium has a lot of start-ups using AI as a main differentiator to their product.

On top of this we’ll keep the formula that worked well last year:

  1. Big networking event of the entire #AI4belgium and Datascience community.
  2. Thirty one-hour workshops and master classes.
  3. More than forty inspiring presentations.

Speaking of ethics: lately we heard a lot about a biased AI raising a question of gender and racial discrimination. In your opinion how can the AI contribute to promote gender or equality for example?

Philippe Van Impe: The first conference we organised five years ago turned out to have 85% of male speakers. In 2016 we have already counterbalanced this by focussing on women in AI.

Having a gender-balanced agenda is just normal and is something that we want to achieve, even if the ladies are a little bit less proactive in proposing pitches. It is our task as a community to motivate them to share their ideas. This will automatically lead to a more balanced agenda where other topics are being put forward.

To answer your question it is clear that AI could include additional test to make sure that obvious bias is taken out of the equation. I have seen different start-ups promoting the fact that they are an ethical AI company.

Can you name some of your keynote speakers?

Philippe Van Impe: This year we have forty-five outstanding speakers. Here are some of them:

  • Luc Julia – worked on Siri and is currently driving innovation at Samsung.
  • Stephen Brobst – advised Obama on Bigdata issues and is now CTO of Teradata.
  • Caroline Pauwels & Yvon Englert –working hard to promote bilingual education in Brussels
  • Lorelien Hoet will explain us the basics of Ethical AI.

Europe is considered to be way behind USA and China in terms of AI race. How do you see a possible contribution of Brussels and Europe to AI development?

Philippe Van Impe: I believe we are well positioned in terms of our education system. Certainly in Belgium quantitative sciences are amongst the best taught subjects.

The fact that we are in the middle of the Ethical AI discussion will help us a lot: already today we see this topic presented to the students in the different data science courses.

We cannot compete in the R&D area. Certainly US, with its universities and companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple, are far ahead – most of the AI innovations will come from there.

China, on the other hand, is stronger in using technology in practical cases. They are better in rolling out the technology. I believe that it is where we can make a difference as well.

Our country is a complex country with different rules and languages, so if you develop a solution here it will automatically include all the possible alternatives needed to deploy in any other country.

In your opinion may this event be of interest for general public outside Data science and AI community and why?

Philippe Van Impe: Yes, of course. Everyone uses AI today, so it is good for people to understand its limitations. During the event we will demonstrate many different applications where AI is used.

And finally can you give us your three main reasons to attend DiSummit 2019?

Philippe Van Impe: Because it is the annual event of the AI4Belgium and datascience community.
There are many reasons why you should come to DiSummit 2019 but if I have to choose, here are my main three:

  1. To inspire your team with real live business cases.
  2. To learn new techniques and develop new ideas in the workshops.
  3. To meet opinion leaders and be part of the AI4Belgium network.

Anything else you would like to add ?

Philippe Van Impe: Yes I would like to thank all our partners over the past years we are still working with the same partners but their number has increase at each event. Special thanks to:

  • all communities & meetups groups that are contributing each year to the success of this event
  • the speakers and trainers who are going to share their experience with all of us
  • the structural partners icity.brussels, hub.brussels, digityser.org, AI4Belgium and Accenture.
  • The numerous partners who are always supporting our activities

 

About diSummit:

On June 26th the AI4Belgium & Data Science Community will hold their 5th annual Summit. You can expect a day packed with innovative ideas and discussions, lots of networking opportunities and perhaps most importantly a chance to have fun with professionals from a wide array of backgrounds.

Like last year our event will take place at the ULB in Brussels in building K. On the main stage we will have 45 esteemed speakers who will seek to inspire you and 6 other parallel tracks. We have also prepared 12 master classes on topics as diverse and critical as ethics, recruiting and architecture as well as 12 workshops for the more hands-on people .

Furthermore, the Job fair will be bigger and better than ever before! There will be a space for the regional AI-initiatives and like last year a partner village will be on the ground floor.

In addition to this, this year we are adding the AI Awards to reward the most interesting AI-projects and the most promising AI-startup.

more info: disummit.org – Facebook – Twitter  – Linkedin – Instagram – Youtube

Make sure you do not miss the chance to be a part of the AI Ecosystem of Belgium!

Outstanding speakers

Inspiring project presentations

Great partners

In-depth trainings

Amazing networking app

Fantastic team

More participants than last year

Buy your ticket now

Higher personalised discounts

Promising startups

AI-Awards

Long party: don’t expect to be home on time

AI-Awards – Semi Finals – Thursday 16th of May at 19:00

DIS19 semi Finals

We are pleased to announce that the semi finals of the AI awards will take place at DigitYser on May 16th. We will start at 19:00 sharp.

Over the past month over 60 startups have been nominated to become the AI startup of the year. This Thursday you will have the opportunity to meet them in person and to listen to their story.

You can reserve your ticket here .

To find out more about the AI-Awards, please check out our website : disummit.org .

 

 

 

#AI4Belgium – Honouring the AI-initiatives in Belgium

DIS19 semi Finals

AI Awards in Belgium.

The AI4Belgium & Datascience community is honouring the most interesting projects and the most promising startups.

Over the past weeks over 80 nominations have been submitted. The entire community is fully engaged in the nomination and selection of these Awards. check the list here: https://disummit.org/ai-awards/

The companies that have accepted their nomination have been invited at DigitYser to record a short video and  interview.

All nominees will also be present on May 16th – #AI startup for a networking evening where they will do a short 5 minute presentation to the public.

The selection of the AI-Award winner  will be done on the whova app by all the participants to the diSummit.

The 7 startups with the most votes will present at the disummit on June 26th.

Desiree is our new partner manager

Dear friends,

I’m pleased to introduce you to your new partner manager Mrs Désirée Timmermans.
Désirée is passionate about IT, marketing, and organizations. Her experience as marketing manager for major IT companies is helping us a lot to understand what the partners of the diSummit really expect.
She will be our partner satisfaction manager, making sure each partner gets the maximum out of his investment.

So to become partner you can:

Download: Partnership presentation.
Call Desiree at + 32 2 808 85 64
Send an email to partners@disummit.org

 

AI in Belgium is booming, and we are in this journey together with you.

This year, all members of the #AI4Belgium and #datascience community meet at the ULB for a full day event focusing on being human in the world of #AI.

The diSummit 2019 gives you the opportunity to be actively part of the entire ecosystem built around the artificial intelligence initiatives and meetups in Belgium. Around 1000 datascience enthusiasts attend this last big gathering before the summer. You will meet the people that delivered the first AI projects in Belgium, and also have the chance to meet the most inspiring startups. In addition, you will experience that #AI is an essential tool to deliver successful projects.

To inspire you, we invited some key international opinion leaders:

  • Dr Luc Julia led the Apple team who developed SIRI. Now, he is driving the innovation team of Samsung.

  • Dr Stephen Brobst is a former advisor of president Obama on big data issues and was one of America’s Top 5 CTO’s.

During the event, three AI-Awards are announced: best AI-Project, most promising startup, and AI personality of the year. The winners are elected by you and the other participants of the diSummit.

Do you like what you have read? Contact Desiree and check out how your company can get into the spotlight and meet new prospects. We prepared different partnering options for you and your prospects on disummit.org, and on May 29th we organize a special diSummit partner pre-meeting at the ULB to ensure you get the most out of your partnership.

I’m looking forward to meeting you during your video recording and at the speaker’s dinner on June 13th at DigitYser.

Kind regards,

Philippe Van Impe
diSummit: +32 2 808 85 64
 
About diSummit:

On June 26th the AI4Belgium & Data Science Community will hold their 5th annual Summit. You can expect a day packed with innovative ideas and discussions, lots of networking opportunities and perhaps most importantly a chance to have fun with professionals from a wide array of backgrounds.

Like last year our event will take place at the ULB in Brussels in building K. On the main stage we will have 45 esteemed speakers who will seek to inspire you and 6 other parallel tracks. We have also prepared 12 master classes on topics as diverse and critical as ethics, recruiting and architecture as well as 12 workshops for the more hands-on people .

Furthermore, the Job fair will be bigger and better than ever before! There will be a space for the regional AI-initiatives and like last year a partner village will be on the ground floor.

In addition to this, this year we are adding the AI Awards to reward the most interesting AI-projects and the most promising AI-startup.

AI-Awards : Calling all nominated companies/projects/personalities to accept their nomination.

Over the past few months we invited the #AI4Belgium and Datascience community to nominate their favourite project, their most promising startup and their personality of the year.

We had over 100  suggestions and have grouped them on our website:

Amethix Technologies  – AMIA Systems  – Boobook  – BrainJar  – Chatlayer  – Citizenlab  – Complidata  – Crunch Analytics  – Cumul.io  – Dalberg Data Insights  – Daltix  – Data.be  – Dataminded – Dataroots  – DataSense  – DataShift  – DataStories  – Datylon  – Depthen  – Digazu  – Epcon.AI  – Faktion  Find Me  – Fourcast  – Geckomatics  – Hozint  – Icometrix  – Image Forgery Detector – In The Pocket – Infofarm  – JetPack  – Juyo Analytics  – Kantify – Keyrock  – Klarrio  – Lantana  – Lawbox  – Lex.be  – LynxCare  – Macty  – MeetMatch  – MultiMinds  – Noisy Channels  – One Datapartner  – Omina Technologies  – – Overture  – Parcify  – Pick It  – Pixelvision  – Predicube  – Qualifio – Radix.ai  – ReImagine  – RetViews  – RoboVision  – Scriptbook  – Sket  – Shape  – Tengu  – Trade Pharma Network  – Trigghr  – WeGroup  -Xplodata  – Yazzoom  – Yields  – Zora Robotics

If you are nominated for the AI awards you need to accept your nomination !

Here is how:

Step one : record your story
To accept your nomination, just fill in the short form  with the basic details about your project and reserve your recording slot with Nico our video man to record your story.  There will also be a short interview with our editor and a written version of your story will be published on disummit.org.

Step two: present your story during the semi finals
On May 16th you are invited to do a 5 minutes presentation – this public presentation will recorded so that the voting can start.

Step three: join us at the speaker’s dinner
It is at this speaker’s dinner that we will announce who are the 7 startups and 7 projects that will be presented at the diSummit.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in our recording studio. The faster you reserve a slot the more votes you will get.

Philippe Van Impe