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.

 

Let’s “Team Up” to develop and use AI

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Dear friends of the community, Let’s “Team Up” to develop and use AI, join the matchmaking event on January 17th.

Please register on the the website from InnovIris:  http://3cf7a07cb448.fikket.com/event/team-up-matchmaking-event

The first edition of the brand new Innoviris program Team Up will be dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

This year Innoviris has decided to free up more than 4M€ for Artificial Intelligence. The objective? Develop the excellence of research, encourage technology transfer, push the use of artificial intelligence in enterprises and ultimately develop new or improved products, processes and services.

By participating in this event you will (re)discover the wealth of opportunities offered by Artificial Intelligence, get inspiration, let ideas emerge, meet the actors of AI in Brussels and thus identify partners to set up projects. You’ll also receive all useful information on the currently open call for proposals (deadline: 31/03/2017).

Collaboration is the key to success of this project call, so do not miss this opportunity to meet your future project partners !

Programme of the afternoon

 

  • 3.30 – 4.00 pm – Welcome
  • 4.00 – 5.00 pm – Inspiration

Cognitive computing from Jeopardy win to fighting cancer: 
Philippe Dubernard – IBM Watson, Cognitive Solutions Team

AI in Brussels: the academic perspective
Tom Lenaerts – ULB- Machine Learning Group, Belgian AI Researchers portal

Turning artificial intelligence into business value, perspective from an SME
Christophe Chatillon – CEO TAPPTIC

  • 5.00 – 5.15 pm – InformationPresentation of the Call for projects by Innoviris
  • 5.15 – 6.30 pmTeam Up!
    Matchmaking session
  • 6.30 – 7.30 pm – Walking dinner & networking

You already want more information ? 

You are an entrepreneur or a researcher and you want to be part of the AI transformation? Click on those links, get all the useful information on the call for projects and submit your expression of interest and project idea.

Your Innoviris contact person: Jonathan Duplicy
jduplicy@innoviris.brussels | 02.600.50.52
Chaussée de Charleroi 110  1060 Bruxelles
Tél (FR) : 32 2 600 50 36  – Tel (NL) : 32 2 600 50 37
Fax : 32 2 600 50 47  – E-mail : info@innoviris.brussels


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Thank you for supporting the European Data Innovation Hub
Vorstlaan 23, bus 411 – 1170 Brussels
 www.di-academy.com | www.disummit.com

Join us on March 30th for the diSummit in Brussels.

Tickets are currently available for sale on Eventbrite

Reply to the call for speakers before January 15th.

 

Join our different communication channels & groups to be the first informed:

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Job – Mentis – Data Analyst

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Mohammed, the CEO of Mentis has kindly requested us to publish their latest job vacancy.

Data Analyst – Ref: datasciencebe

As a Quantitative analyst at Mentis, you will develop innovative new technologies, products,
and execute analytic projects that help our clients achieve their goals and build competitive
advantage.
At Mentis we built the future by offering state-of-the-art services in Text/Data Mining,
Natural Language Processing and all kinds of Statistical Analysis. We started in 2005 as a
spin-off of the Artificial Intelligence Lab of the University of Brussels and, since then, our
pool of talent helped many clients to optimize their costs and revenue. We operate globally,
our clients are from several sectors and we are well renowned for the quality of our services.
We believe in people’s empowerment, our environment is cozy and friendly and we privilege
a startup mentality and dynamics.
We apply machine learning techniques to structured and non structured data. We develop Artificial
Intelligence based systems to tackle hard problems in areas like optimization, prediction,
entity resolution, search relevance, recommendation algorithms and network analysis.
If you enjoy working with data to build products and solve hard problems in creative ways,
you will fit right in.

Requirements

  • Strong background in Machine Learning, Statistics and/or Information Retrieval.
  • Some experience working with large data-sets.
  • 2+ years experience developing high quality software, contributions to open source projects are a plus.
  • Experience programming in an object oriented language (Java, C++, etc).
  • Knowledge of scripting languages like Ruby or Python and familiarity with web frameworks are a plus.
  • Comfortable with data analysis and visualization using tools like R, Matlab, or SciPy.
  • Critical thinking: ability to track down complex data and engineering issues, evaluate different algorithmic approaches, and analyze data to solve problems.
  • Creativity: you can conceive of new data driven products, features, and technologies.
  • Results: you prioritize, focusing on ideas and features that will have significant, measurable impact.
  • Planning and estimation: ability to set and meet your own project objectives and milestones.
  • Ability to coordinate effectively with team members in engineering, design, and product management.
  • Communicate results and progress internally and externally in meetings, presentations, and tech talks.
  • Masters, Phd, or equivalent experience in a quantitative field like computer science, physics, mathematics, bioinformatics, etc.

What we offer

  • A position in a fast growing area.
  • A joyous salary.
  • Lots of room for your creativity.
  • 20 days of paid leave plus an average of 10 public holidays.
  • Possibility of doing 1 day of remote work per week.
  • Flexible work schedule.
  • Flat organizational structure where people can set up their own agenda and deliverables.
  • Good pension and health care scheme.
  • A phenomenal atmosphere in the office, including snacks, good coffee and free drinks.
  • An international, young and friendly environment in a shiny office in Brussels downtown.
  • Plenty of opportunities for learning and improving as a professional.

Contact Information

If you are interested please contact Mentis and dont forget to  mention the ref: datasciencebe:
Email: mbenhaddou@mentis-consulting.be with in CC: datajobsbe@gmail.com
Web: http://www.mentis-consulting.be
Tel:+32 2 647.72.25

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