Artificial intelligence should be a focus area for the Baltic Sea Region and Northern Europe: A development and test environment supporting AI solutions in healthcare needed

Artificial intelligence should be a focus area for the Baltic Sea Region and Northern Europe: A development and test environment supporting AI solutions in healthcare needed

There is a global race for excellence in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) and Northern Europe (NE) cannot afford to ignore. Therefore we should immediately take the first step towards common efforts in AI in BSR/NE now and prepare for what should happen after 2020.

Any successful strategy dealing with AI needs to be cross-border as stated by Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

An AI strategy for BSR/NE should assist to mobilize national research, innovation and business communities in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and Big Data. Building a strong BSR/NE AI innovation ecosystem that integrate knowledge, capacity and access to data is important.

AI is the foundation for competitive industries, better services for the citizens and new solutions to societal challenges. AI as a technology cuts across the boundaries between the public and private sectors and between topics like health, IT, environment, climate, and transport – any topic in fact.

Therefore AI should be given special attention in present and future BSR/NE investments.

AI on the EU Baltic Sea Region strategy summit, national and EU efforts

Åsa Zetterberg, Government Chief Digital Officer of Sweden, during a plenary session at the EU Baltic Sea Region strategy summit in Tallinn 4th of June pointed out the importance for the BSR to focus on AI.

Countries that are successful in utilizing, applying and realizing the benefits of AI, and simultaneously managing the risks, will gain significant competitive advantages in the global market.

AI will also help make the public sector more efficient and relevant.

For these reasons, Sweden is setting up a leading international environment for collaboration on AI in Gothenburg thereby developing and accelerating the application of AI in society .

In Denmark the government January 2018 presented a strategy for digital growth where AI is a cornerstone .

The German government aims to present by the fall a comprehensive strategy for the further development and application of AI .

The Finnish government has set in motion a plan to develop a far-reaching national AI development strategy to help make the country a leading location for the AI industry .

Likewise Estonia works to prepare an AI strategy.

The Polish government has declared it needs a national AI strategy

On April 10, 2018 25 European countries signed a Declaration of cooperation on AI .

Artificial intelligence in healthcare

The AI in healthcare market size is estimated to grow from USD 667 million in 2016 to USD 7,988 million by 2022, at an annual growth rate of more than 50%

Tero Piispanen, Director of International Services at Turku Science Park and vice chairman of ScanBalt has stated:

“In the Baltic Sea Region there are a number of SMEs and larger companies, who have a need to explore the opportunities that AI tools could provide for their business. However they do not always know where and how to test their ideas. This we can and should remediate via Baltic Sea Region collaboration”.

Several BSR life science research institutes and innovative SMEs have already been quick in embracing the AI technologies but the main challenge they are facing is lack of awareness of what they do, since they are generally still in the initial phases and work mostly locally.

AI will for example provide platforms for developing computers that can make medical diagnoses better than physicians .

Selected Quotes on Artificial Intelligence

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for Digital Single Market : The digital single market is coming together. But without data we cannot get the full benefits from AI, high-performance data analysis and other technical advances. These technologies help to advance health services and education, develop transportation networks and save energy; that is a smart way to use data.

Siim Sikkut, Deputy Secretary General for Communications and State Information Systems : Estonia could benefit from AI in many ways. In the public sector we can use it to center the user more, do better data analysis, also to make the country more effective and reach the goals of e-state. AI can also have a significant role in industry digitalization, not mentioning bringing new investments and innovation activities to Estonia; the developers are looking for an development and test environment that supports AI solutions.

Per Spindler, Director, Biopeople, Denmark’s Life Science Cluster (this article): AI is important for the development of precision medicine and new models within health care and the business of health care. The contemporary development within fx genetics-, bio- and nano-technology allows for a more individual adapted health care that can also take place in patients’ home. Medical practice can be more precisely when e.g. computer programs – including AI – help with scanning, diagnosis etc., and it will give the individual medical doctor more time for the critical and needed patient care. New digital diagnostics options with AI could improve the treatment of diseases and the health individuals. Companies can collect and access large amounts of data – so-called “big data” -, which can provide brand new knowledge, opportunity for new business models and better products and service options for patients and consumers. – And finally, the use of digitalization and AI in companies can provide more efficient production and workflows that can enhance productivity and growth


Jaanus Pikani, Chairman of ScanBalt, Board member, Tartu Biotechnology Park

Krzysztof Bielawski, Vice Chairman of ScanBalt, Professor at IFB,Vice-Rector for Development at University of Gdańsk

Daan Bultje, Vice Chairman of ScanBalt, Director, Healthy Aging network Northern Netherlands

Thomas Frahm, Vice Chairman of ScanBalt, Project Director, Life Sciences North

Frank Graage, Board member of ScanBalt, Director, Steinbeis Team North East

Gudrun Mernitz, Vice Chairman of ScanBalt, Project manager, Witeno

Sven Parkel, CEO, Tartu Biotechnology Park

Tero Piispanen, Vice Chairman of ScanBalt, Director of International Services, Turku Science Park

Per Spindler, Director, Biopeople

Iris Öhrn, Vice Chairman of ScanBalt, Investment Advisor, Business Region Gothenburg

Peter Frank, General Secretary, ScanBalt (Corresponding author, )

ScanBalt members: