Tomorrow the one-day event ‘How To Get There Summit’ will host a number of talks, discussions, roundtables and keynote speeches to incite innovation and collaboration between startups, corporates and innovations. A plethora of corporate company representatives, startups and experts will attend the event.
Part of the programme will be the official launch of the Watson Ecosystem Program for the Netherlands, the third country in Europe IBM chose to actively push its AI partner program after Britain and Israel. A dedicated team for the Netherlands will help startups and tech companies build innovative solutions using IBM Watson’s cognitive and machine learning APIs on the IBM Bluemix cloud. Partners can market their apps through IBM’s distribution channels and work closely with the teams in London and New York. Stephen Gold, Vice President IBM Watson will give a keynote speech on creating startup ecosystems. Other luminary speakers are Harald Gordijn, the CEO of TomTom and Minister Henk Kamp.
Open for business for Dutch startups
The Watson Ecosystem Program had its soft launch in the Netherlands this September during the Amsterdam Capital Week with the Watson Pitch competition at B. Amsterdam. Out of the ten contestants the recruiting platform StartMonday came out as the winner.
At the How To Get There Summit more partnerships will be announced says Michel Splint, manager ecosystem development and cloud consulting at IBM. “We will furthermore announce that Watson is officially open for business for Dutch startups and demonstrate the technology with concrete Dutch use cases.”
Launched in 2013, the Watson Ecosystem Program offers artificial intelligence as software as a service. By building applications on top of the Watson platform startups and established companies can plug AI data crunching and inference prowess of Watson to their products and services. Part of the 1 billion dollar program is a 100 million dollar venture fund through which IMB invests in promising startups that are powered by Watson technology.
Additional intelligence layer
As a cognitive AI platform Watson can understand natural language and human communication and generate and evaluate evidence based hypotheses and adapt and learn from human selections and responses. To the general public it’s mostly known for winning the popular American quiz Jeopardy in 2011. Since then it has been gradually opened up to for instance physicians to research cancer, which culminated in the launch of IBM Watson Health earlier this year and partnerships with the likes of Apple, CVS and Johnson and Johnson.
Healthcare is however just one of the many areas where startups and tech companies are building apps on top of the Watson platform. Other areas include non-profit, energy, financial services, retail, security and travel. Former Wired editor, Kevin Kelly even argues that artificial intelligence and machine learning are key ingredients for startups to succeed in the future: “In fact, the business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI.”
The promise of AI in all its forms is that it can learn via the vast amounts of (big) data, can classify more accurately by constructing numerous layers of abstraction and, as a result, make better predictions. Distributed AI platforms like Watson help organizations in any field to add an additional intelligence layer to their process, enabling them to make more effective and efficient decisions. In terms of efficiency the positive effects of AI on society is close to immeasurable.
The IBM Watson Ecosystem Program fits into the company’s broader cloud push. Transforming from software and services company to a platform business with a focus on cloud, analytics and engagement. This strategic shift is eloquently vocalized by the CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty and something any company should take at heart: “You don’t get to be a hundred years old doing the same thing.”