'Companies are having a lot of data, but they often lack the tools to put it to good use.'
Like her students, Director of the College of Informatics Jacobijn Sandberg recently relocated to LAB42. She hopes the new building will lead to many inspiring collaborations between researchers, students and businesses.
Why is that?
'All the natural science disciplines are located in that building. In addition to direct colleagues from the Informatics Institute, you could just as easily run into a chemist or zoologist.
The College of Informatics is part of the Informatics Institute and consists of three Bachelor's programmes: Computing Science, Information Science and Artificial Intelligence. All three degree programmes have seen an increase in student numbers in recent years.
'We have grown quite a lot. 'Twenty years ago, all three programmes combined probably had around 100 first-year students, and we're currently at over 400.'
So how can an office at LAB42 benefit those companies?
'Companies are having a lot of data, but they often lack the tools to put it to good use. They need researchers to help them do that. Researchers need large datasets to do effective research. At LAB42, they can use that data to develop new algorithms and data analysis techniques. Those kinds of exchanges had already been taking place for several years through the ICAI labs [Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence, ed.].
LAB42 aims to intensify collaboration between researchers and the commercial sector. The companies who set up offices here tend to be active in the fields of data science, AI, infrastructure and digital innovation.’
To finish, which collaboration project would you like to highlight?
'The Blue Student Lab is a good example of an ongoing collaboration between students and industry. This project is aimed at students from all three degree programmes. They do their own individual graduation projects, but the subject has to focus on the same common theme determined by the participating company.
For example, we did a project with ABN AMRO. Students worked in the same space, which allowed them to learn from each other. They were also in regular contact with experts from ABN AMRO. The project was themed around the issue of digital security.’
The Blue Student Lab is appealing to companies because it explores the same subject through the lens of different disciplines: ‘For example, an information science student might assess the authorisation protocols, or in other words; who actually has access to these systems? A Computing student might focus on software that helps you prevent your system from being hacked, while an AI student would figure out a smart way to intercept hacking attempts.'