Launching a Cognitive Center in Bergen

Published 25.06.2019
Industry clusters in the Bergen region, the City of Bergen, Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry, VIS Innovation, Helse Vest and several of the academic institutions in Bergen are now joining forces to establish a national center for cognitive technologies with IBM as the technology partner. The ambition is to raise expertise and competence in artificial intelligence.

The project is initiated through the close collaboration between IBM and NCE Media, with IBM also being a partner in the Media City Bergen Media Lab. It is the complete and full ecosystem with solid industry clusters, a strong academic environment, and a forward leaning public sector that makes the region particularly attractive and suitable for such a center.

Digital foundation stone
As part of the the mcb tech .19 conference on June 13th, the project was launched with a digital foundation stone ceremony, performed by representatives from the consortium; Björgolfur Hávardsson, R&D Manager, NCE Seafood Innovation, Håvard Myklebust Chairman of NCE Media/CEO Fonn Group, Håkon Pettersen, Deputy Mayor of Finance, City of Bergen, Loek Wredenberg, CTO IBM, Geir Mikalsen, VP Marketing & Communications, Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This represents the start of a long-term collaboration that will shape and create both the center and the future. In short terms, 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 to raise, develop and specialize competence in cognitive technologies and artificial intelligence.

Broad collaboration
– Bergen is a city of ambitions, and a city where the going business model is cross industry collaboration, says Anne Jacobsen, CEO in NCE Media.

– This might very well be the largest and broadest cross industry and public sector initiative in the history of this city. We have worked together in a consortium a few months now to form a good starting point and launch for the Norwegian Cognitive Center.

Representatives from the consortium laying down the digital foundation stone: From left: Anne Jacobsen (NCE Media), Björgolfur Hávardsson (NCE Seafood Innovation), Håvard Myklebust (NCE Media/Fonn Group), Håkon Pettersen (City of Bergen), Loek Wredenberg (IBM), Geir Mikalsen (Bergen Chamber).

The consortium comprises all the industry clusters in the region, representing hundreds of companies, many of them global leaders in their fields within Finance, Media, Ocean Technologies, Healthcare and Seafood. The City of Bergen, taking the lead in digital public services in new and groundbreaking ways and being a model for other cities in Norway, has also joined the consortium, as well as Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representing decades of trade and business history. VIS Innovation and Helse Vest (The University Hospital) are also consortium partners. IBM is already heavily involved in several research projects in the clusters, in addition to two specific SFI applications (Center for Research-based Innovation) to the Research Council of Norway in collaboration with industry clusters. Last but not least, several solid academic environments in the region are involved, where especially the University of Bergen has strong links  to the clusters.

281,445 good reasons
Furthermore, the Cognitive Center will work on several specific projects within aquaculture, mobility, healthcare, construction as well as other infrastructure and digital services, areas where the City of Bergen is a natural partner.

– We have 281,445 good reasons why we should work even closer with the industry and the business community in the use of artificial intelligence, and that’s why we are joining the clusters, the academia, and IBM to develop the National Cognitive Center, based in Bergen. Together, we want to establish a strong cross sector initiative in the Bergen region to raise knowledge and competence within artificial intelligence. We will be contributing by making more data, useful to the city, the academic institutions, the business community and the citizens available. Our goal is that the center will help modernize, simplify and improve the services for our citizens, says Håkon Pettersen, Deputy Mayor of Finance, City of Bergen. 

Björgolfur Hávardsson, R&D Manager in NCE Seafood Innovation, presenting the next step for AI project "AquaCloud", highlighting how important the Cognitive Center will be in developing new insight and business for cluster partners.  

Important expertise
The ambitions for the cognitive center are also to create new high competence and high-tech jobs, which is strongly demanded by the industry. A recent survey from Bergen Chamber, where digital competence in the region were mapped, showed that one-third of the companies in the region found it challenging to obtain adequate and relevant digital competence in their workforce.

– The most significant shortage of expertise when it comes to new technologies, is in artificial intelligence. The cognitive center will therefore match need from the industry, says Geir Mikalsen, VP Marketing & Communications, Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

For now, the center will be located in Media City Bergen, where NCE Media already has established a cross sector environment for project development, prototyping and innovation. Several new partners will be included into the consortium on an ongoing basis, as the cognitive center will have an open innovation platform.