June 28, 2023

AI Marketplace: Thinking outside the box to find solutions!

At markets, you can take your time to look around. What is offered here, what interests me, what works for me? The AI Marketplace project does just that for industry: It offers technical solutions and solution paths on the topic of artificial intelligence, and its customers look around to see if there is something suitable.

Now the funding period for the project, launched in 2020, expires at the end of June. We spoke with Leon Özcan, who oversees the project at the Heinz Nixdorf Institute in Paderborn, Germany, and Christoph Mertens, Head of Adoption at IDSA, about the next steps.

But first, what exactly is the AI marketplace? “We are a solution provider for artificial intelligence  in engineering”, Özcan describes. And what is behind the term solution provider? AI use cases are identified and tapped for the customers, the industrial companies. Research is done to see if players in the market already offer this solution, then mediation is done. If not, alternatives for implementation are looked at. “From start to finish, we want to provide the entire journey – from use case identification, to tapping – for our users.”

Successful use cases

Where is the project now and what has been accomplished? Individual use cases and services that have reached a high level of maturity are already being offered on the market. “There are some areas where we have been able to achieve a high level of technological maturity,” Özcan explains.  These include functions that are about to be launched on the market. To continue the important work, a consortium has now been formed to continue the project beyond the funding period.

In concrete terms, for example, a pilot project with the agricultural machinery manufacturer Claas involved intelligent equal parts management. Equal parts are components in vehicle construction that can be used in different areas and products. The management system developed now has a good chance of being used  after the funding period.

An AI application has also been developed together with Hella Gutmann, a manufacturer of automotive diagnostic equipment, as part of the AI marketplace. This application can predict a defective component to the automotive mechanic based on fault codes so that a vehicle can be repaired in a targeted manner. AI was successfully applied in both examples, and the result is now about to be launched.

A more secure AI Marketplace

What added value do data spaces offer to the AI Marketplace, and conversely, what does the AI Marketplace offer to data spaces? The use case of Hella Gutmann is the one that Christoph Mertens, as a data space representative, has taken up to think it further and build a data space scenario with it. Mertens states, “the AI Marketplace could be happy just by itself: Services offered on the marketplace can be consumed, data can be uploaded, downloaded, processed.”

But now another step has been taken and the AI marketplace has been equipped with an IDS Connector, the TRUE Connector from FIWARE and Engineering respectively. This makes it much easier than for other marketplaces to connect to a data space. The general onboarding that comes with any data space, “Please sign a contract here, agree to the policies here” is a given. Those who previously did not want to share their data with AI-based services because data sovereignty could not yet be guaranteed can now do so. This means that the AI marketplace is already able to tie its existing services to promising data spaces and thus expand its business model.

Why are such funded projects important for IDSA?

Especially at the beginning of the AI marketplace project, there was a lack of knowledge coupled with great curiosity about data spaces and their business benefits. Mertens again: “We want to focus on certain AI-based services, drive them forward in their maturity, offer them and make them consumable. But just also dare to think outside the box.”

It’s also a huge value add for IDSA, “finding the companies that are interested, that want to learn, that want to make it applicable to them. And the networking effect that this creates for us should not be underestimated and is extremely important, and that worked out wonderfully here,” Mertens emphasizes in conclusion.

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