ABB Canada to host inaugural Artificial Intelligence Hackathon

ABB Canada, a pioneering technology leader with a comprehensive offering for digital industries, to host its first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Hackathon at its state-of-the-art Campus Montreal facility

Committed to transforming manufacturing, across the world ABB is leading artificial intelligence (AI) integration into industrial applications. In 2018, a $150 million (USD) investment was made to build the world’s most advanced robotics factory in Shanghai. The factory combines connected digital technologies, state-of-the-art collaborative robotics and cutting-edge AI research to create the most sophisticated, automated and flexible factory of the future.

“ABB’s new journey is about positioning our company as a digital leader in industry enhancing customer value,” says Nathalie Pilon, President, ABB Canada. “Artificial Intelligence is a key growth area in Canada. We, here in Montreal, are a global hub for AI and possess world-class AI researchers and universities that are contributing to making this city a powerhouse,” adds Pilon.

Beginning April 26, 2019, the three-day event will commence with opening remarks by Eric Deschenes, Executive Vice President, Electrification Business, ABB Canada, Paul Bird, General Manager, Human Resources and Integrated Services, ArcelorMittal, Alan DeSousa, Mayor of Ville Saint-Laurent, Marco Blouin, General Director, Science and Innovation Sector, Québec Ministry of Economy and Innovation of Quebec, and Jean-Frédéric Lafaille, Vice-President – Policy and Communications, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.

Designed to be a real-world, interactive and educational experience for 30 master’s, PhD, fourth-year undergraduate and continuing education students, this developmental challenge will also serve as a comprehensive exercise in digital innovation.

Split into ten teams, participants will have 48 hours to develop an AI solution for two industry segments – mining and emergency lighting. ArcelorMittal Mining Canada, an ABB customer, and the world’s leading steel company, will also be onsite to mentor the participants as they work to create a solution for that industry segment. The challenge will not only foster learning, but demonstrate how important it is to develop a mindset of empathizing with customers’ pain points and how to collaborate and co-create solutions with the local ecosystem.

By way of immersive experience, the hackathon is allowing participants to envision the industries of the future. This experience will feature workshops, coaching sessions and a future-looking ideation session to forecast how the world’s industries will be empowered by AI, and how our world will be transformed as a result. The program will focus on innovating solutions and conducted through the lens of AI ethics: sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and the future of work.

To assist the participants in their co-creation activities with our customers, ABB will offer facilitation from the ABB Ability™ Customer Experience Center (ACE) and two of its experts to support with this innovation experience.

ABB Ability™ is ABB’s unified, cross-industry digital offering — extending from device to edge to cloud — with devices, systems, solutions, services and a platform that enable our customers to know more and do more. Connecting our customers to the power of the Industrial Internet of Things and, through our services and expertise, ABB Ability™ goes further by turning data insights into the direct action that "closes the loop" and generates customer value in the physical world.

To bring this event to life, ABB has partnered with SEED AI, Stradigi AI and the Montreal AI Ethics Institute to create a fully-immersive program. Furthermore, with the help of Seed AI, submissions were targeted and solicited with the help of various Montreal universities. The selection process took into consideration the participants diversity in their professional and educational background. Each were also individually reviewed and evaluated based on their machine learning experience and identifying talent who would benefit from exposure to real-world problem solving, and, subsequently narrowed down to the final 30 participants.

On Sunday, April 28, the event will close out with teams presenting their findings to a judging panel of leaders including members of: Stradigi AI, BCF Ventures, Peck Tech Consulting and ABB’s Emergency Lighting TDC (Technology Development Center). In addition to a cash prize, the two winning teams’ solutions will be used to inspire the next phase for customer offerings and will see participants taking a seat at the table with ABB and the customer.

“We know the industry is transforming, and today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders who will be driving that change. The hackathon is one of the ways we want to demonstrate our commitment to developing the workforce of the future by connecting with the local ecosystem and higher learning institutions,” adds Pilon. “We believe in inspiring the next generation of great thinkers. With the support of our partners, I believe the hackathon will encourage them to explore their potential in new and creative ways.”

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader with a comprehensive offering for digital industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB is today a leader in digital industries with four customer-focused, globally leading businesses: Electrification, Industrial Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation, supported by its common ABB Ability™ digital platform. ABB’s marketleading Power Grids business will be divested to Hitachi in 2020. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.


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