16 April 2024

Fundación LAB challenges CENID, UA and UMH students to improve a company using AI

Alicante, 16 April 2024.- Fundación LAB Mediterráneo a project promoted by the Employers’ Association of Valencia (AVE), in collaboration with the CENID, the University of Alicante (UA) and University Miguel Hernández de Elche (UMH), today organized an innovation challenge based on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve companies. Under the title “Challenge the future by overcoming tomorrow’s challenges today. III innovation challenge: How to improve a company with AI, a dialogue between students and companies was established in order to find innovative solutions and promote collaboration between the academic and business worlds. 

This is the third innovation challenge organised by the Foundation, following those carried out in recent years, the first in Valencia under the slogan “Challenging urban mobility” and the second in Castellón under the title “Challenge your future: Make it circular”. 

During the session held at the CENID, participants designed a solution using artificial intelligence to help improve a company in areas related to information, sales or human resources management. 

Participating in the challenge were students with different qualifications, such as business administration and management, biotechnology, audiovisual communication and journalism, double bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and business administration, economics, biomedical engineering, telecommunications technology engineering, electronic engineering and industrial automation, computer engineering, computer engineering in information technology, computer engineering and mathematics, mechanical engineering, multimedia engineering, robotics engineering; Master’s Degree in law, Master’s Degree in Software Development for mobile applications, Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence and advertising and public relations, among others. 

Helping them find solutions to the challenge were approximately fifteen mentors from organisations like Aceitunas Cazorla, Aquaservice, AVE, CaixaBank, Exponentia, Familia Martínez/KM ZERO, Gimeno Group, Helados Estiu, Logifruit, Nunsys Group, S2 Grupo, SPB/Cleanity, Verne Technology Group and Zeus/Sesame. 

CENID director Manuel Palomar was in charge of opening the event. He referred to the students as “those who are the talent”. “I invite you to make the most of this day during which you will be in contact with innovation managers from large companies in the Region of Valencia, and you will learn to face the challenges posed by AI in the future”, he concluded. This was followed by a speech by the CENID’s Secretary-General, Rafael Muñoz, on behalf of CENID-UA, who stated that “the appearance of AI in the company is similar to the first appearance of computers: it will change the way we work and make companies more intelligent”. On behalf of CENID-UM, Federico Botella, the Rector’s Delegate for Digital Transformation, gave the welcoming speech and pointed out that “AI will not take away your job, but somebody who is proficient in AI and can use it to do the tasks you do in your job better will take it from you”. 

From LAB Mediterráneo Foundation, Gianni Cecchin, member of the Foundation and CEO of the Verne Technology Group, stressed the day’s objective: to generate connections between businesspeople and the talent in universities. 

To contextualise the challenge posed to the students, Antonio Soto (Verne Technology Group) and Fernando Canós (Banco Sabadell) shared information on how AI is applied in their companies. 

The Data & AI director of the Verne Technology Group, Antonio Soto, informed that “according to the latest AI barometer published by Indesia, only 2.13% of Spanish SMEs use AI, and the Region of Valencia ranks well below the main autonomous communities, with only 1.9% having adopted it. The main challenge they need to address is the lack of expertise and acceleration methodologies”. 

Fernando Canós, deputy General Manager and Eastern Territorial Director of Banco Sabadell, highlighted the value of the close collaboration between his Alicante Technology Competence Centre and the CENID, the UA, the UMH, the Ellis Unit of Alicante, the UA Higher Polytechnic School and its technology partners in order to “implement initiatives while thinking of the bank of the future, with AI being a fundamental part in the visualization of how this future will be and currently is within our reach”. 

Afterwards, Olga Broto, director of Materia Naranja, presented the challenge and the work dynamics, and pointed out that “by leveraging human intelligence with artificial intelligence, we can achieve excellent results”. 

During the course of the morning, the trustees of the LAB Mediterráneo Foundation interacted with the different teams of students, helping and guiding them in solving the challenge. 

Participants were organised in 9 work teams with the names of some historical AI engines that have come on the market: Watson (from IBM), DeepMind from Google), Einstein (from Salesforce), Siri (from Apple), Alexa (from Amazon), Bixby (from Samsung), GPT (from Open AI), Bard (from Google) and Cortana (from Microsoft). 

To conclude the day, each team of students publicly presented their solution to the challenge posed. 

Following deliberation by the jury, the prizes were awarded, the closing ceremony took place, and a cocktail reception was held to help foment networking among the business people, students and representatives of the educational community. 

Fundación LAB Mediterráneo

Fundación LAB Mediterráneo is a project created by AVE with the mission of positioning the Region of Valencia as a national and European benchmark in entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and research.

To achieve this, it has set itself five objectives: to promote the creation and attraction of technology start-ups; to work to attract national and international technology companies to set up in the Region of Valencia and create a ‘tractor effect’; to promote support for companies in non-technological sectors to accelerate their digital transformation; to contribute to increasing private investment in R&D&I; and to help promote research.

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees is made up of the following entities: Aceitunas Cazorla, Aquaservice/Plug and PlayAVEBaleàriaBanco SabadellBoluda Corporación MarítimaCaixaBankDacsa GroupEmbutidos Martínez/KMZERO, GDESGrupo AZAGrupo BertolínGrupo GimenoHelados EstiuImportacoLanzaderaLogifruitNunsys, RoyoInvext, S2 GrupoSPB/Cleanity TIBA/Romeu, Verne Technology Group and Zeus/Sesame.


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