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Science and business in the Netherlands are joining forces in the field of artificial intelligence. Today, the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) will be officially launched at Amsterdam Science Park. The first lab within ICAI is a partnership with Ahold Delhaize.

ICAI is focused on the joint development of AI technology through industry labs with the business sector, government and knowledge institutes. Maarten de Rijke, director of ICAI and professor of Information Retrieval at the University of Amsterdam: ‘The Netherlands has all the resources to take up a prominent position in the international AI landscape – top talent, innovation strength and research at world-class level. ICAI combines these strengths in a unique national initiative.’

AI for retail

In the joint ICAI-Ahold Delhaize industry lab, the AIRLab, seven PhDs will conduct research into socially responsible algorithms that can be used to make recommendations to consumers and into transparent AI technology for managing goods flows. The research will take place at Albert Heijn and bol.com, both brands of Ahold Delhaize. In addition, AIRLab will focus on talent development tracks.

Frans Muller, deputy CEO Ahold Delhaize: ‘Ahold Delhaize, Albert Heijn and bol.com look forward to working with ICAI. Artificial Intelligence offers countless possibilities for the retail industry, the consumer and society at large. With this partnership, we want to further develop our ongoing initiatives and learn how AI can be used to better serve the interests of our customers. For instance, we will look at how to further optimise Albert Heijn’s supply chain by, for example, improving the availability of goods by taking into account local weather conditions. Also, we will investigate ways to make the assortment of bol.com even more accessible to customers. These insights and knowledge can be applied to our brands in the United States and Europe.’

De Rijke: ‘AI will influence every sector of society. The partnership with Ahold Delhaize is of major importance because with it we are making a serious investment in the development of AI talent and AI technology outside of the traditional technology sector.’

The need to invest in AI

Artificial intelligence is today’s foremost technological innovation and promises to bring about major changes in society. AI investment is taking flight worldwide. The Netherlands has a long tradition in AI education at all levels, from Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes up to the PhD level. De Rijke: ‘The Netherlands must continue to strive for innovation through AI, especially by attracting, managing and retaining top talent and by linking this talent with the business sector. This is the mission of ICAI.’

About ICAI

ICAI is an open collaborative initiative between knowledge institutes that is aimed at AI innovation through public-private partnerships. The Center is located at Amsterdam Science Park and is initiated by the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam together with the business sector and government. The organisation is built around industry labs – multi-year partnerships between academic and industrial partners aimed at technological and talent development. ICAI will be housed in a new co-development building where teaching, research and collaboration with the business sector and societal partners will come together.