How artificial intelligence is booming in Berlin
Artificial Intelligence is changing our lives as the steam machine or electricity did 250 years ago. With a wave of new startups and cutting-edge research, Berlin is taking part in this revolution. With a total of 223 companies employing about 5,000 people and generating a turnover of 500 million Euros in 2017, Berlin is a European melting pot for innovators and visionaries in the field of AI.
What’s behind AI?
AI is a buzzword – often associated with sci-fi dystopian scenarios, like robots outsmarting mankind, flying cars or a suave speaking computer operating system, we fall in love with. But as we now know, we’re surrounded by AI every day. Helping chat bots, parking assistants or face recognition, just to name a few examples, are making our lives more convenient.
At the core of artificial intelligence is a method of information processing called deep learning. This derivative of machine learning – which uses statistical methods to predict a certain outcome – uses multiple levels of understanding, respectively artificial neural networks inspired by the human brain, to independently draw conclusions.This also makes “big data” one of the most valuable and sought-after resources of our time.
Berlin's AI edge
As early as the mid-2000s companies from the AI-sector increasingly located their business in Berlin-Brandenburg. Considering the distribution of AI-startups in the country, the initiative for applied artificial intelligence counted 86 (40.2%) of these tech innovators in the German capital.
Curious about AI developments from Berlin? Read inspiring stories and interviews about the latest research projects and innovations on #ai_berlin.
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The growing importance of Berlin as a centre of artificial intelligence is also closely related to its vibrant science environment. According to a study done by Technologiestiftung Berlin a total of 50-65 professors of different fields of application were carrying out 273 research projects (2007-2017) at numerous research facilities, colleges and universities with a total funding of €117 million supported by federal ministries. Many ideas have been already launched by universities and research projects are being further developed.
Focus on business intelligence, life sciences and smart mobility
These projects have produced interdisciplinary work in a wide range of fields, including health technology, speech and image recognition systems, intelligent analysis of massive data/cognitive assistant development, interactive textiles, educational technology and collaborative robots.
Roughly 231 million Euros of venture capital has gone towards AI companies in 2017. By 2025, the annual revenue of AI companies in Berlin is expected to reach over 2 billion Euros. The global GDP is expected to grow up to 13,8% by 2030 due to AI technology – although this may vary by geographic region, the pwc study "Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Germany" from 2018 suggests, that the growth in Northern Europe and North America could be espeically high.
The director of the Berlin Big Data Center at TU Berlin, Volker Markl, further notes that “there are leading companies with a strong focus on AI, such as Amazon, SAP, Google and Siemens, in Berlin” and adds that the Berlin startup scene “offers a unique ecosystem for research and technology transfer in the field of artificial intelligence, with cutting-edge research in data science, especially in the essential basics of data management and machine learning.”
With 36 per cent, innovations and services which analyse and improve internal processes account for the largest share. For example, knowledge-based expert and language systems automate business processes, making them more efficient and transparent. With the help of AI systems, market data is analysed and evaluated with a view to expected future developments. Other developments simplify personnel recruitment or help to implement marketing activities in a more targeted manner and to address customers better with data-protected analyses. Such as parlamind, an intelligent software for customer services, which functions as a virtual team member and can communicate and complete tasks independently.
Healthcare and Life sciences
AI systems from Berlin are used not only to support the internal processes of hospitals, but also for operation planning, diagnostics and data analysis of specific clinical pictures. Apps on fitness and health are developed as well as chatbots which accompany patients during the healing process: from the diagnosis of the illness to the visit to the doctor.
A bright example of AI in healthcare is Berlin startup Ada, which obtained funding of 40 million euros in 2017 for their sophisticated AI-powered diagnostics app. Launched globally in over 130 countries, Ada serves as a personal health consultant who evaluates the user’s health symptoms to provide suggestions about how to deal with them swiftly and efficiently. Another successful startup from Berlin is Audatic, which filters distracting background noises for hearing impaired or deaf people..
Mobility and city intelligence
A special focus of the Berlin AI companies is the development of driver assistance systems, such German Auto Labs, which is a pioneer in automotive voice AI. Besides the core areas of autonomous driving, Berlin is also working on AI systems for road maps, apps for pedestrians and augmented reality systems for air traffic.
The SAFARI project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, develops and tests technologies for highly automated and networked driving in a typical urban scenario, the Reinickendorf district's "Digital Test Field Berlin". This involves delivering high-precision map material, storing valuable information about lanes, traffic infrastructure, traffic light system data for self-driving vehicles.
Fittingly, there are companies developing hardware and software which enables machines to see intelligently. The Berlin startup BrighterAI uses deep learning to anonymize visual data, such as people’s faces or license plates, while keeping the content natural and fully analyzable. The technology makes data collection in public compliant according to privacy regulations worldwide, such as GDPR in Europe, CSL in China and the upcoming CCPA in the US.
The new website #ai_berlin is showcasing current and pioneering developments, lighthouses, inspiring stories, all networks, initiatives and experts in Berlin and Brandenburg to the national and international AI-community. The overall goal is to link tech companies, startups, research institutions and talents on one platform and visualise and further strengthen Berlin as an AI-hub.
Text: Uhura Creative Media
Header image: iStock