We have visited examples of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) from many European countries (Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, France, Italy…). It has arrived the time to visit Spain, which has one of the bigger DIH ecosystems in Europe, with 49 fully operational hubs.
Established in 2017 and coordinated by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM – Polytechnic University of Madrid), one of the biggest and most prestigious universities in Spain, AIR4S focuses in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics based technologies and counts with a solid and steady support from the Regional Government of Madrid.
They operate in a network of 5 Research Institutes, 13 Research Centers, 3 Innovation Centers and 200 research groups in all areas of Engineering and Architecture and their coordinator, UPM, is the founding member of the Big Data Value Association (BDVA), member of the euRobotics Association, and is actively contributing to the European Artificial Intelligence Alliance and the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.
Looks like a good example, right? Keep on reading the answers that Mr. Javier Valero (JV) has kindly provided us to know some more about them.
JV: AIR4S is a one-stop-shop Digital Innovation Hub in Madrid Region (Spain), led by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, that provides innovative solutions and services to industry, especially SMEs and entrepreneurs, and public administrations, on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics based technologies.
AIR4S aims to connect communities and facilitate relationships within all stakeholders involved in the business and innovation value chain and bets for the accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a way to leverage growth on organizations in a sustainable way and to effectively return to the society their investment.
JV:Based on services provided during the last two years, AIR4S has supported an average of 150 different customers each year, offering them all kind of services, from technological advice/ development/ training to non-technological support (IPR, I&E, …).
The profiles of our customers are very diverse. AIR4S gives services to a variety of organisations: SMEs, midcaps and big companies, coming from diverse vertical sectors: agriculture, energy, climate, manufacturing or health, as well as public administration bodies. These stakeholders have the opportunity to upgrade their services, processes and solutions and to improve their efficiency through the effective integration of AI and Robotics enablers and, at the same time, playing an important role in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
AIR4S in its strategic plan has estimated a progressive increase of customers in the forthcoming years, thanks to a more specific dissemination and awareness activities. In order to reach this objective, AIR4S counts on several strong players to attract potential customers, such AIR4S partner The Chamber of Commerce of Madrid.
In terms of measured impact of services provided to supported companies in the initial stage of the DIH, we don’t have available KPI’s yet. Gathering this sort of feedback is definitely a main asset to monitor in the next stage.
JV: AIR4S provided multidisciplinary services around five areas of activity, thanks to the background and expertise of its partners. These areas are:
JV: AIR4S partners have received funds through many H2020 projects to collaborate with a number of European private and public institutions. For instance, UPM research groups have participated actively in providing technical solutions in many European projects and we are a key partner in providing innovation, education and intelligent services to companies in the context of the four European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in which UPM participates: Digital, Health, Raw Materials and Climate. This active participation directly contributes into daily activity of AIR4S facilitating the connection with potential clients.
In addition, we have been selected as a member of the IA DIH Network that gathers the best 30 DIH’s in Artificial Intelligence domain. Such collaboration doesn’t provide AIR4S any financial support, but it means a very valuable recognition for our DIH to be considered one of the best prepared DIH in AI and Robotics domain and a strong candidate to be one of the selected groups of European DIHs (EDIH’s) to be supported by the forthcoming Digital Europe Programme.
It is important to mention that UPM receives financial support from the regional Public Administration of Madrid to carry out operational costs required for developing and implementing the University’s DIH’s strategy, which includes the participation in AIR4S. This aspect becomes crucial in a first stage of the DIH in order to drive a smooth transition towards a sustainable business model based mostly on private funding.
JV: One of our most interesting cases is the Open data portal based on semantic technologies for the Spanish National Library.
Historically, libraries have been responsible for storing, preserving, cataloguing and making available to the public large collections of information resources. The Spanish National Library has a collection of information sources such as: authority records (these records contain metadata describing people, organizations, work titles, and subject headings) and bibliographic records. It is composed by more than 4 million MARC 21 bibliographic records, more than 3 million MARC 21 authority records (e.g., providing personal information, classification information), and to more than 100,000 digitized materials in RDF triples.
The Spanish National Library requested AIR4S for an on-demand technological service based on creating an open data portal based on semantic technologies that integrate all the data coming from the above heterogeneous sources and connect the Spanish library data with other data from relevant international libraries. Service was a combination of a technology service provision, software licensing and customized training delivery.
The solution provided is the development of the “datos.bne.es”, an open data portal for the Spanish National Library. The portal is in production 24*7, allowing the general public and librarians to access the catalogue using advanced features for searching over different types of entities (e.g., authors, works, translated works, or subjects), navigation across different types of connected entities (such as the author of a work) using advanced features for data indexing, ranking, retrieval and visualization. In addition to the portal itself, the following services are provided.
The solution also links the Spanish National Library data to the following library datasets: The Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), The Authority File of the German National Library (GND), The French National Library (DBpedia), The authority and bibliographic catalogues of the National Library of Sweden (Libris), and SUDOC.
The benefits gained as result of this on-demand technology solution are principally:
Interview by Almudena S. Escrich, DIHNET