First AI Accelerator group developing Finnish-language speech technology and customer service

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The AI Accelerator, which began its activities in August, has launched its first group working to develop AI applications together with companies. The group’s objective is to promote speech technology and its use, particularly in customer service encounters that take place in the Finnish language.

“Companies have a great interest in developing speech technology to suit their needs. A great deal of ready-made models are available internationally, but they don’t always work as expected in the Finnish context. Our goal is to make it possible for speech technology, or technology for understanding and producing speech, to be used at a broad scale in the Finnish language, too,” says Alexander Törnroth, AI Accelerator Lead at AI Finland.

The companies in the first group are Elisa Plc, Alma Media Plc, the S Group and the OP Group, along with the technology suppliers Curious.ai, Speechgrinder and Äänicompany.

Cooperation with companies leads to new results

The AI application group will work for half a year, progressing in three-week periods. The top priorities are sharing information within the group and promoting encounters between the companies: the accelerator brings large service companies and technology developers together.

“It’s silly for companies to try to solve the same challenges on their own. That’s why we do things together in a group. Our activities rely heavily on peer pressure and support: concerns, challenges and successes are shared openly,” says Törnroth, describing the Accelerator’s approach.

Every company has its own objectives in the project. One wants to develop customer service so that speech-based customer service can be available outside the official hours of operation. Another wants to develop new business models, such as the ability to order services using speech. A third wants to make its employees’ work easier by offering new tools that use and understand speech.

AI Accelerator supports companies

The task of the AI Accelerator is to lead the project, support the companies and, if necessary, bring in outside expertise. The main focus of the activities is on identifying the challenges related to companies’ use of AI and to offer solutions to them.

In order for a company to be accepted into the Accelerator, it must already have an AI strategy in place. The company must also be able to show that it has developed AI pilots prior to joining the Accelerator.

“To ensure a well-functioning group with good dynamics, it is important for companies to have the same level of AI readiness,” Törnroth adds.

The objective is to have several groups working in the Accelerator next spring to help companies better utilise artificial intelligence.

“We are currently working on developing possible topics for upcoming groups,” Törnroth explains. “I see opportunities in financial administration and the personalisation of various services. Certain branches, such as heavy industry and construction, are also particularly interesting.

The AI Accelerator operates in connection with Technology Industries of Finland. The activities of the Accelerator are funded by the Artificial Intelligence Programme of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. More information about the Accelerator: Finland’s Artificial Intelligence Accelerator

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