In cooperation with several large business clusters, Bergen Municipality, VIS Innovation, Bergen Business Council, Helse Vest and several of the region’s academic institutions, the Seafood Innovation Cluster has combined its powers to establish a national center for cognitive technology, with IBM as technology partner. The goal is to create a national center of gravity for expertise in artificial intelligence based in Bergen. This is in response to both national and regional needs as well as in response to several extensive surveys tagging the lack of IT competence as Nr 1 bottleneck in the seafood sector, with Big Data and AI as the most urgent issues.

gunnarsdottir-8701 The initiative comes through the close cooperation the media cluster NCE Media has with IBM, where IBM is also a partner in Media City Bergen Media Lab. It is the total ecosystem with solid clusters, a strong academic environment, and an offensive public sector that makes the region particularly attractive and suitable. During the mcb tech .19 conference, the project was launched with a digital foundation stone with representatives from the eventually large consortium. This represented the start of a long-term collaboration that will shape and create both the center and the future. In the short term, the center will develop a number of specific projects within industries such as aquaculture, media, finance, tourism, real estate and the public sector, while the long-term ambition is knowledge and competence development regarding cognitive technology and artificial intelligence.

Great interdisciplinary collaboration

– Bergen is an ambitious city, with cooperation as a business model, says Anne Jacobsen, CEO of NCE Media.

– And this is perhaps one of the greatest interdisciplinary initiatives in this region’s history. We have worked together in a consortium a few months now to form a good starting point for the cognitive center.

The consortium consists of all the business clusters in the region, which in total represent a large number of powerful companies, many of them world leaders in their fields. Bergen Municipality, which is far ahead on the Norwegian scale of digital services, also participates in the consortium, in addition to Bergen Business Council, VIS Innovation (formerly Bergen Technology Transfer) and Helse Vest. IBM is already heavily involved in several major research and development projects in the Bergen area, in addition to two specific SFI applications (Center for Research-based Innovation) for the Research Council of Norway jointly with the clusters. And last but not least, several solid academic environments in the region are involved, where the UiB in particular is strongly linked to the clusters.

281,445 good reasons

Bergen municipality is closely involved in the project. The center will work on several concrete projects within topics such as aquaculture, mobility, care, construction, water and sewage as well as other infrastructure where the municipality of Bergen is also a natural partner.

"We have 281,445 good reasons why we should work even more closely with the clusters and the business community in the use of artificial intelligence, and therefore we join forces with the largest clusters, academia, business community and IBM to develop the cognitive center based in Bergen. I would like to start various projects in the longer and shorter term to establish an interdisciplinary, strong and clear center of emphasis on expertise around artificial intelligence in the region. This will enable us to make available even more data that the municipality, academia, industry and the inhabitants will benefit from. The goal is that the center will be able to contribute to renewing, simplifying and improving the services towards the citizens, says Håkon Pettersen in Bergen municipality.

Strong need for expertise

The center’s long-term goal is also to contribute to new, high-tech jobs, which is strongly demanded by the region’s business sector. A survey of digital competence from February this year under the direction of Bergen Business Council showed that one-third of the companies in the region have problems with obtaining enough competent workforce in digitization.

– There is clearly the greatest shortage of expertise in artificial intelligence when it comes to new technologies. The center is therefore important in relation to the need in the business sector, says Geir Mikalsen, marketing and communications manager in Bergen Næringsråd.

So far, the center will have room in Media City Bergen, where NCE Media has already established an interdisciplinary environment for development projects. Several partners will be included on an ongoing basis. The center will have an open collaboration on artificial intelligence.