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Ten pitches, one winner, tons of networking possibilities, the launch of IBM Watson partnerships in the Netherlands and one hell of a Dutch start-up ecosystem showcase. This pretty much sums up the evening in B. Amsterdam on Friday 25 September.
The event was part of the Amsterdam Capital Week, initiated by StartupAmsterdam and co-executed by the Amsterdam Economic Board, which unites over 30 events in Amsterdam that focus on matching startups with investors. IBM Watson set up a pitch contest where the winner becomes the first partner in the IBM Watson Ecosystem in the Netherlands. The event formed a beautiful scope on the rich start-up world in and around Amsterdam. Recruitment app StartMonday was the proclaimed winner of the evening, but a wide variety of great ideas passed in review. Not only small start-ups climbed the stage, but early-stage-ideas from established companies such as CapGemini and Synappz also got to pitch, because:
“No organisation is too small or big to be part of the Watson Ecosystem.” – Oliver Meeker, Business Development Manager at IBM Watson Ecosystem.
A new step in computing: cognitivity
At SXSW 2014, IBM did a soft launch of the Watson supercomputer (that actually failed to be a ‘soft launch’ because revolutionary news tends to go viral – and so it did). The Watson technology distinguishes itself in the sense that it brings us ‘cognitive computing’: the computer understands natural language and is able to learn, and reproduces the human ability to analyse and structure big chunks of data. Basically, the Watson technology answers questions just like a human (team) does. Watch the video below to take a closer look:
Investment fund IBM aims to speed up the process of incorporating the Watson technology into business. With a 100 million dollar investment budget in the Venture Capital of IBM Watson, an ecosystem is created where new technology is not only offered, but is also implemented into businesses as soon as possible.
Out of 50 applications, ten Dutch startups got to sell their idea ánd how the Watson technology could be implemented in the presented services. The jury consisted of representatives of IBM Watson, StartupBootcamp and The Next Web. The concept was short and snappy: three minutes to pitch, two minutes to answer the panel’s questions on business models, revenues, upscaling, the targetted customer-base and litigation-issues and so on.
In the end, StartMonday came out the winner. Their service introduces a possible revolution in the industry of ‘hiring people’. Instead of the time-consuming and tiring process of sending in resumes and letters, ánd processing all these by the hiring party, StartMonday offers a quick and contemporary way of selling yourself ánd acquiring candidates. Simply upload a 15 seconds-long video from your mobile device – and you’re done. With the analytic abilities of the Watson technology, the app can incorporate a candidate recognition system to help employers to quickly filter out the right candidates for the job.
Though not the winners, a few cool ideas that also made the stage were:
The Sightcorp crowd sensor technology could cause a real evolution in crowd control and public safety. With their face analysis tool, not only surveillance can benefit greatly, but also narrow marketing strategies can be defined quickly, more human interaction with robots will be possible, autistic kids can be trained to recognize emotions… The possibilities are widespread. Watson brings the data analysis: the great amount of data that is assembled by sensors, must be structured and processed.
Synappz pitched an app that creates a medical file, that can be accessed by patient ánd doctor. The idea is that this app documents personalized health information per patient, by adding only case-relevant information. For instance, a patient can add regular diary posts where symptoms are documented – and with these extensive notes, the diagnosis process could be optimized. The Watson Q&A technique could help doctors to analyse the data chunks in the app.
The passionate founders of OnWheels presented their app for wheelchair-users, which indicates whether a location or public transport service is adapted to their needs. The unique part: users fill in the specifics of their wheelchair such as measurements, and the app helps you to find your (accessible) way through the city of choice.
“Please start writing checks!” – Michel Splint (Manager Ecosystem Development IBM Benelux) addresses potential investors in the audience, because of all great ideas that come by.
Even to an audience that is neither entrepreneur nor investor but merely interested in tech and smart services, this was an eye-opening and interesting evening. It seems like a no-brainer that investors and start-ups found each other in-between pitches, and opportunities for those who didn’t win arose either way, because of the platform created by IBM, Startup Bootcamp, B. Amsterdam and Capital Week Amsterdam.
In November, the IBM Watson Ecosystem is available for Dutch participants – and they seek partners. More information can be found here.
Photo: Oliver Meeker (Business Development Manager at IBM Watson Ecosystem) demonstrates the innovations in Watson technologies.