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The story behind this opening started a year ago when Sigve Brekke approached Telenor Research with the task to find “an initiative by Telenor that can make a real difference.” The result was the following: Setting-up an AI research lab and building, as well as providing an experimental IoT network for entrepreneurs to use.
“Since the announcement of these two initiatives, I am very pleased to see that we managed to do both,” says Sigmund Akselsen, Senior Scientist in Telenor Research and responsible for setting up the Telenor-NTNU AI-Lab. “In close collaboration with a team at NTNU we have created a lab that will provide favorable conditions for innovation and research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Real data will be accessible for problem solving, and close collaboration amongst industry, research institutions, academia and start-ups will be possible,” explains Akselsen.
Open to all
The Telenor-NTNU AI-Lab will focus on theory and method development within machine learning (multiple technologies and applications that can understand, act and learn from big datasets) and pursue applied research at an international level. The ambition is to make the lab a ‘center of gravity’ in AI research and education in Norway, and also an innovation hub that will stimulate the creation of new products, services, companies and workplaces.
Since this lab will be open to all, the expectation is that several businesses will contribute with both real-world problems and datasets. Telenor, for example, will provide anonymized digital product datasets from our network data. The goal is for scientists to use the material together with the involved parties, and by doing this, more parties will benefit from extensive competence building.
“With this opening we wish to accelerate the education, research and competence building which will be critical for Norway’s ability to transform to a completely digital future. The AI-train is on its way out from the platform and we need to jump onboard” says Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group.
As part of this mandate, it is critical to develop our in-house competencies and attract more students in Norway who choose STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degrees.
Telenor’s investment of NOK 40 million will fund professorships, post-doctoral positions and master/PhD scholarships as well as hardware and software for the lab. An additional NOK 10 million will be dedicated to building an IoT innovation network which will provide an importance source of data for the lab’s research work. Our company’s researchers will participate in joint projects at the lab. NTNU will contribute with academic resources, infrastructure and technical assistance while the research organization SINTEF will contribute with bringing the knowledge into practical use.