AI is revolutionizing the world and Tricity is where you want to be if you want in on the action. From IVONA to Alexa, from local startups to Fortune 500 brands, we have it all!
Have you heard about IVONA? She was here before Alexa. Developed by the graduates from Gdańsk University of Technology, IVONA was subsequently taken over by Amazon in 2013 and scaled up to use 47 voices that can read in 24 languages. IVONA is still loved by the geeks – while Amazon has its Development Center in Gdansk that delivers innovative solutions powering their products and services around the world, including the famed Echo device powered by Alexa.
But there is more to Pomerania’s AI landscape than this one globally recognized text-to-speech smart product. The number of companies in the AI sector has been growing rapidly in Tricity since 2015, making Gdańsk the second most promising location in Poland when it comes to AI potential, according to the recent Digital Poland report. The AI ecosystem is Gdańsk is buzzing with new ideas and solutions. Companies such as SentiOne, VoiceLab, CTA, Quantum CX, Nlightnin Production, BrainScan, EduSense, Neoteric or DLabs – are some of the players in the AI revolution based off the Polish Baltic coast.
What’s driving this smart growth? Tricity’s genius loci has many components to it. The region’s attractive location (no wonder 9 million tourists visited Pomorskie last year!), friendly government policies, a positive migration balance, great infrastructure, fantastic institutes of higher education and trainings, access to a skilled talent pool, connectivity to the rest of the world, world-class incubators, accelerators, technology parks and organizations that support investments and growth, are just a few factors that are fueling the rapid AI growth.
Tricity has in the recent decade experienced unprecedented growth – the economy grew by 7% in 2017. The business service sector, lured by the mushrooming world-class office spaces and well-educated workforce, has witnessed many global Fortune 500 corporations establishing their shared service centers, mainly in Gdansk and Gdynia. After the initial period of simple outsourcing, many of them are now introducing advanced processes and R&D. For example, Intel’s center of excellence in Gdańsk develops device drivers (that is middleware for data transfer between the device and the rest of the computer system), while Acoustic develops world-class AI-driven marketing products.
– Gdańsk has moved ahead of simple outsourcing in recent years– agrees Marek Trojanowicz, AI Startup maverick and founder of BrainScan.ai, a company that applies Machine Learning to recognize medical images, specifically to convey automated analysis and assessment of pathological changes visible on CT imaging. – As more and more new office spaces are being built, the global companies that develop IT products and services decide to locate their operations here, because they know perfectly well they are gaining access to the highly educated engineers and research staff – says Trojanowicz.
Tricity educational offer
The Gdańsk University of Technology is number four in Poland in terms of reputation and its graduates land jobs in top of the tops companies. – Currently, more or less every institute here is involved in artificial intelligence education and research to some extent – says Dr Jacek Lebiedź, head of the Immersed Spatial Visualization Laboratory at GUT that does research in gaming, bot trainings, AI-supported 3D modeling, intelligent human-VR interfaces, and intent recognition.
Add to that the fact people are willing to move to Tricity from all over the world, and you have a talent pool of dreams. – Over the past five years, I have noticed that young people are much more mobile. – says Marek Trojanowicz. – Not only is remote work more popular, but people are more willing to relocate.
As AI moves towards an interdisciplinary future, where math, physics, chemistry, and biotechnology will play an equal role alongside computer science, it’s a great advantage to have a mosaic of different competencies in the region. –This should pay off when all the universities strengthen cooperation between each other and with the business world.– believes Trojanowicz.
The well-developed technical and scientific infrastructure also includes a number of technology centers, incubators, and accelerators that helped create a vibrant AI ecosystem. The Pomeranian Science and Technology Park in Gdynia, for example, offers modern offices, biotechnology, and electronic laboratories, where young companies can develop prototypes, consult the experts about technology commercialization opportunities and obtain external financing.
Such support is vital because companies, especially smaller ones, need affordable spaces, access to experts and inexpensive computing power. The latter is particularly important – and underestimated, according to Jacek Kawalec, the founder of Voice Lab, a local company that specializes in AI-powered intent recognition platforms and speech recognition decoders.
He sees it as both a challenge and an opportunity for the local AI market. – The amount of computing power that analysis of neural networks needs is hugely underestimated– he says. –The costs of using cloud computing are exorbitant and hardly any startup can afford it. We need cheaper high-performance computing power.
Data banks and data speed
Another challenge is that AI needs huge amount of annotated data to learn. If it is supposed to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy kidneys, for example, it needs thousands of images of healthy and unhealthy organs to learn what it’s looking at. – As a region, we have a possibility to quickly create such data banks that AI companies can use because we have the data – insists Jacek Kawalec.
With a technical university, medical university and many other public and academic institutions on board that can deliver various data in large amounts, Pomerania is attracting companies from outside the region and the country who are looking forward to using this extensive data library.
Poland also plans to build a 5G network and make high-speed Internet available to all residents. Such activities will certainly help in the further development of AI, as some of its applications – such as autonomous vehicles, vital life signs monitoring in healthcare or cybersecurity – require a reliable and fast data transmissions.
Quality of life
But what almost everybody always mention first when you ask them “So, why are you here?” is “because it’s a great place to live and work!”.
In the latest Numbeo ranking published in 2019, Gdańsk was in the top hundred best-rated cities, beating Lisbon, Paris and Rome when it comes to cost of living, access to healthcare and pollution factors. The residents of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot are the most satisfied in the whole country, as the 2015 study shows, happy with the place they live in. And the American Milken Institute ranked Pomorskie the fourth-best performer among all European regions, right next to London, Stockholm, and Budapest in 2017.
Why do people want to live and work in Tricity?
316 km shoreline
Cleanest air in Poland
3000 km canoe trails
2000 km cycling paths
50+ international and domestic flight connections daily
24 universities, 80 000+ students
35 languages spoken in business centers
About Invest in Pomerania and Live more. Pomerania
Invest in Pomerania is a regional non-profit initiative that supports FDI projects in Pomerania, by providing assistance at every stage of the investment process.(www.investinpomerania.pl)
Live more. Pomerania,powered by Invest in Pomerania encourages potential talents to relocate to Pomerania. It aims to share the best of Pomerania with the rest of the World (www.livemorepomerania.com)
Author: Joanna Irzabek for Invest in Pomerania
Photo credits: VoiceLab; BrainScan