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Northern Sweden takes the lead in applied AI

Published: 23 January 2023

SMEs have learned more about artificial intelligence and how it can be used to improve business. Luleå University of Technology has in turn found new collaboration partners for business-related research. During the last three years, the university has gained ground in applied AI.

– At the university, we have gained a greater understanding of the companies' situation, the companies' level of maturity in AI looks incredibly different. We have created a good foundation for future more effective business collaborations. Happily, we also see that other target groups have taken an interest in AI, for example authorities and municipalities, says Michael Nilsson, Centre for Distance-Spanning Technology, CDT, at Luleå University of Technology.

The purpose of the Applied AI DIH North project was to strengthen the competence of small and medium-sized companies in Norrbotten and Skellefteå municipality, within applied artificial intelligence. This would in turn lead to better competitiveness of the local industry, increase the performance of AI-based services and products and contribute to the development of new innovative products. The goal was to implement eight sub-projects, that figure was exceeded and there were eventually 12 sub-projects with 12 participating companies.

– The companies have been in widely varying industries: health, mining, IT, space, the forest industry and the process industry, just to name a few, says Michael Nilsson.

From drones to photo books

For example, the sub projects have been about AI support for drones, AI algorithms for computer vision that can improve the control of satellites in orbit, and image analysis via deep learning for better automation of photo books. Also, it has been about how companies can ensure they own their data and how it is best stored, or how a company finds funding to introduce technology in the AI field. In summary, the companies have gained access to tools to create customer benefit, practical support for the development of AI, knowledge and insight into customer needs and a general increased understanding of how they can use AI in their companies.

– A gratifying bonus effect has been that the university has also functioned as an entrance for other types of research than such related to AI. Digitization in a broad sense is something that companies need to continue working on, says Björn Backe, also project manager at CDT.

– More companies understand what Luleå University of Technology can do for them and how we can match companies' needs with the right research skills. There has been an important transfer of knowledge that we did not foresee at the start of the project.

Applied AI DIH North had a budget of SEK 30 million and was financed by the European Regional Development Fund, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå Municipality, Skellefteå Municipality and Region Norrbotten. In addition to the financiers, RISE and LTU Business have also participated in the project.


Björn Backe

Björn Backe, Project Manager, Head of Division

Phone: +46 (0)920 492111
Organisation: Digital Services and Systems, Embedded Intelligent Systems LAB, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering
Michael Nilsson

Michael Nilsson, Project Manager

Phone: +46 (0)920 492306
Organisation: Digital Services and Systems, Distance- Spanning Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering