Discovering Slovenia’s artificial intelligence and data science landscape

Thoughts on mapping the AI ecosystem

Slovenia’s Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Landscape v0.5

Introduction

But recently, Slovenia has also captured some of the world’s attention by establishing the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), a first-of-its-kind global AI center backed by UNESCO [1]. This was widely regarded as a major achievement of the Slovenian AI research community and was even covered by Mark Minevich [2] and Rebecca Banovic [3] in Forbes magazine.

However, I believe that there are quite a few other exciting aspects to Slovenia’s AI story. I have decided to contribute my part in telling them by undertaking the project to create the document “Slovenia’s Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Landscape”.

Motivation

During my career, I have had an opportunity to work in a variety of roles, including as a researcher in both public and private institutions, as a university educator, as a founder of a start-up company providing AI implementation services to businesses, and currently as the Head of AI in a multinational company. Through this experience, I have learnt that Slovenia has excellent building blocks for a thriving AI ecosystem — researchers which conduct world-class research, high-quality technical studies, a vibrant start-up community, and a rapidly growing number of businesses adopting AI.

However, I have also noticed some limitations. The first, perhaps the largest, is that there is far too little collaboration and information flow between different types of entities, and that there seems to be present a strong tendency to gravitate towards self-contained cliques. The second one is that there has not been much of AI-related investment activity in Slovenia, especially from foreign investors. Although an in-depth analysis of the reasons for these limitations is beyond the scope of this blog post, it seems to me that creating a reasonably comprehensive landscape can be a small but not insignificant step towards addressing both problems.

Document name

Structure of the landscape

Companies and startups

I also had to use a lot of editorial judgment to decide whether a particular company should be listed as part of the “Slovenian” AI and DS landscape at all. My rough guideline here was that a company should have a significant presence or connection to Slovenia. This meant that I included companies that are formally registered in other countries, but operate technical teams in Slovenia or startups that were co-founded by Slovenians who appear to still be working from Slovenia, etc.

Service providers

I have further divided the service providers into two groups based on the estimated degree of their specialization. In the first group are companies that have a niche specialization in AI and DS. The second group includes companies that offer a wider range of services (often including services related to business intelligence, data warehouses, etc.).

International tech

Internal team

Other

Research & Education

Sources of Information

Hopes for use cases

  • Foster new partnerships on research or commercial projects.
  • Support the competitiveness of the AI & DS ecosystem by providing ideas to companies procuring products or services to extend the tender invitations to additional suppliers.
  • Encourage proactive jobseekers looking for a job in AI or DS to contact a larger pool of potential employers.
  • Inspire journalists to approach some new companies that might have interesting products and services that could make a great story.
  • Give meetup organizers ideas for inviting new speakers.
  • Spread awareness about various regular AI & DS events.
  • Spark investor interest in the Slovenian AI & DS ecosystem.

Disclaimer with a call to action

However, if you think that the document has some value in its current form, you are very welcome to share it with others!

Acknowledgements

I would also like to thank Jasmina Ovčak, Boštjan Kaluža and Erik Štrumbelj for giving me initial feedback and suggesting missing entities.

References

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/markminevich/2020/04/13/heres-how-slovenia-is-shaping-the-new-human-centric-society-and-pioneering-the-world-in-ai/#587689648602

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccabanovic/2019/04/07/pioneers-of-artificial-intelligence-slovenia-to-set-up-international-ai-research-centre-with-unesco/#2731d624caea

[4] https://www.enlite.ai/works/ailandscapeaustria

Appendix

A selection of Slovenian laboratories performing AI-related research

  • Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  • Department for automation, biocybernetics and robotics
  • Department of Intelligent Systems
  • Department of Knowledge Technologies

Faculty of Computer and Information Science, University of Ljubljana

  • Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  • Bioinformatics Laboratory
  • Computer Vision Laboratory
  • Laboratory for Adaptive Systems and Parallel Processing
  • Laboratory for Biomedical Computer Systems and Imaging
  • Laboratory for Cognitive Modeling
  • Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Multimedia
  • Laboratory for Data Technologies

Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana

  • Laboratory for Machine Intelligence
  • Laboratory of Control Systems and Cybernetics
  • Laboratory of Imaging Technologies
  • Laboratory of Information Technologies
  • Laboratory of Robotics
  • The User-adapted Communications and Ambient Intelligence Lab

Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

  • Computer Architecture and Languages Laboratory
  • Institute of Informatics
  • Laboratory for Geometric Modeling and Multimedia Algorithms
  • Laboratory for Heterogeneous Computer Systems
  • System Software Laboratory

Head of AI at Comtrade Digital Services, Executive Board Member at AI4Slovenia, https://www.linkedin.com/in/boriscergol/