Jessica Vermeer
14 October

Five major Dutch companies, Ahold Delhaize, ING, KLM, NS and Philips, want to boost artificial intelligence in the Netherlands. The collaboration named Kickstart AI has defined as its goals to enlarge education capacity, improve development of the Dutch AI community and emphasize the position of the Netherlands as being competitive and relevant in the world of AI. First and foremost, it wants to close the gap between the Netherlands and more advanced countries like the UK, the USA and China. The five companies plead to expand local knowledge and talent to implement AI according to the ethical and social norms of Dutch society.

Kickstart AI includes three initiatives. Firstly, AI super challenges: a competition to increase the worldwide profile of the Netherlands by mobilizing global talent to tackle societal challenges in the fields of health and mobility. Secondly, to invest in public-private collaboration by appointing university teachers and professors, making education accessible for the next generation. Each company wants to jointly appoint five academics, creating a total of 25 positions. The third initiative is a national AI course, meant for internal staff and the general public.

According to Maarten de Rijke, director of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence, “The Netherlands has always been a technology pioneer in the development and innovation of AI. But without a national strategy, the shortage of AI talent in our country will remain one of the major obstacles for reaching our full potential in AI technology. This effort shows the urgency of accelerating AI education and retaining talent.”

Holding a central place in Dutch society, the five contributing companies acknowledge the potential AI has for improving daily life. Kickstart AI is complementary to the Strategic Action Plan AI and the Dutch AI Coalition, which were both announced last week.