October 28, 2020

LAB42: a new AI co-creation hub

When it opens in two years, LAB42 will be an international talent hub for digital innovation and artificial intelligence – creating knowledge, developing talent, and generating real-world applications. While Amsterdam Science Park already specialises in hot-housing collaborative projects between the academic and business worlds, LAB42 is formulated to go “next level”.

Building a strong AI community

“LAB42 is unique. I haven’t really found any other situations where companies can house themselves in the middle of the students and researchers. They’re often neighbours like here in Amsterdam Science Park, but it’s actually rare that they are in the same building,” says Esther Smit. She’s manager of business relations at UvA’s Informatics Institute and will fulfil a similar role for LAB42.

The new facilities will not only be the new home for the Informatics Institute, but also other research-heavy-hitters such as the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) and the Innovation Center for AI (ICAI).

Esther Smit, Manager of business relations UvA “Amsterdam Science Park is all about supporting collaborative relationships. LAB42 can take this to the next level by strengthening these collaborations and making them even more visible ”

Designed for co-creation

“LAB42 is about building a whole new community. It’s designed to connect people from different worlds to drive real-world innovations. Of course, Amsterdam Science Park is all about supporting collaborative relationships. But LAB42 can take this to the next level by strengthening these collaborations and making them even more visible.”

The fully circular and energy-neutral building is designed to promote interaction. “The bottom floors will have the students and the upper floors will be for the researchers,” says Smit. “And in the middle floors, companies can rent office space – this is also where the meeting rooms and common areas will be,” according to Smit.

Expanding the range of partnerships

The Informatics Institute already has a strong history in collaborating with corporates. Existing partners such as AholdDelhaize, Bosch, TomTom, KLM and Qualcomm will likely be well-represented at LAB42.

“We’ve learned how to work effectively with these companies,” says Smit. “But now with the proximity to Startup Village, we hope to find new ways to work with SMEs – to broaden our partnerships to those who can’t necessarily afford the money and time needed for collaborative research.”

“And when these companies outgrow Startup Village, they can potentially flow into our building and thereby maintain the connection with the university.”


Ultimate answers

And for those fans of the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ‘42’ does indeed refer to the computer-generated answer to that “ultimate question about life, the universe and everything”.

“It refers to what we want to do at LAB42: use machines to find important answers, but with the human touch.”

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