AI Transformation support for SMEs
With a pilot project in Västra Götaland and Halland, AI Sweden is addressing the AI needs in Swedish small and medium businesses (SMEs) that haven not yet started their AI journey. A team of AI Change Agents dedicated to SMEs are currently supporting small and medium sized companies in their first steps on that transformation.
“It’s hard to think of any sector that won’t change as a result of the possibilities with AI. In any market where the customer cares about quality, performance, or speed, AI can help the supplier meet those demands. And if your company doesn’t utilize the toolset that AI offers, most certainly will your competitors,” says Astrid Sjögren, AI Change Agent SME at AI Sweden.
This is true for organizations of any size. With the program AI Change Agent West, AI Sweden can now support SMEs in the western parts of Sweden in how to start using AI.
The goal is to support 100 companies before next summer. The target group is SMEs based in either Västra Götaland or Halland, that are interested in exploring how AI could help them address at least one of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
“Our AI Change Agents will work with SMEs that are curious about AI and want to explore how AI could be used to improve their business in a sustainable way,” says Helena Theander, Head of Partner Management at AI Sweden and managing the AI Change Agent West program.
While AI is often described in technical terms, what Astrid Sjögren and her AI Change Agent colleagues focus on is how to apply AI, and how it can be used to solve real-world challenges or provide new opportunities.
“If you want to be successful in identifying valuable use cases, you have to involve all competences in the organization. It is not enough that the technical teams are thinking about AI, because you can’t expect them to know the business well enough to realize the best use cases. Instead - make sure to involve the operators in manufacturing or the customer service agents, or someone else who knows what the data scientists don’t,” says Astrid Sjögren.
But it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps the most important is that the top management is committed to using AI..
“Many of the use cases for AI are actually transformative, they have the potential to change the organization in fundamental ways. Not necessarily the first use cases you approach, but further down the road. And because of that, the management team needs to get involved,” says Astrid Sjögren.
How can you and your colleagues help?
“With a lot of things. From early inspiration, adapted to the company, and basic training about AI, to ideation workshops to find the best use cases, or by assessing the current maturity levels in your organization to identify what areas you have to work on to build your capabilities to work with data and AI. But it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not fair to expect this change to happen by itself, you need to be a part of a larger ecosystem work with the whole organization’s mindset. And we do this together with you,” says Astrid Sjögren, and continues:
“We also expect that we can act as matchmakers between the SMEs that we work with and AI Sweden’s partners. At the startups and consultancies in our partner network we think that there is an interest in working with the SMEs as needs owners. And for our corporate partners, they might have suppliers that could benefit from our offer.”
Thanks to funding from the React EU program, together with Västra Götalandsregionen and Region Halland, AI Sweden can work with SMEs in the western parts of Sweden.
“It is important for AI Sweden to meet the great need identified by our partnering regions, and together with them support the vast number of small companies that have yet to start their transformation using AI. Coaching those companies will be vital to keep effective, productive, and competitive subcontractors in the Swedish market and ecosystem - which in the end strengthen our partners,“ says Helena Theander.
The AI Change Agents SME are distributed throughout the western parts of Sweden: Halmstad, Skövde, Gothenburg, and Trollhättan. But there is also an opening in Borås. Get in touch with Helena Theander if you are interested or know someone who might be.
If you work in an SME based in Västra Götalandsregionen or Halland, and are curious about how AI can be a tool for your company, get in touch with one of our AI Change Agents:
Astrid Sjögren, Halmstad
Marcus Frantzén, Skövde
Eric Dutt, Göteborg
Anders Thoresson, Trollhättan
Vacant, Borås: Get in touch with Helena Theander if you are interested or know someone who might be!
The project is led by AI Sweden in cooperation with Skövde Science Park, Innovatum Science Park, IUC Sjuhärad, HighFive Halland and Lindholmen Science Park.
The project is financed by the European Regional Development Fund, Västra Götalandsregionen and Region Halland.