Experiences and optimism from AI4Cities Bootcamp

The experiences gained from the AI4Cities Bootcamp show how an online bootcamp can be a great tool for an open market dialogue. At the same time the companies’ commitment to the project raised hopes in respect to the possible solutions that can emerge from AI4Cities over time.

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With the upcoming AI4Cities tender The City of Copenhagen is looking for solutions that can optimize the use of energy in the buildings combined with the production of district heating. In this connection The City of Copenhagen joined the AI4Cities Bootcamp with the purpose of gaining a greater knowledge of the market and its solutions in order to sharpen the tender.

The bootcamp was directed to all interested startups, SMEs and bigger companies who were both able to design innovative solutions applying the use of AI and motivated to participate in the pre-commercial procurement process. Besides helping the Byers Group to gain a greater knowledge of the market, the bootcamp also aimed at sparring with the companies about their preliminary solutions and ideas.

As technical project managers, Theis Petersen and Roar Hyldkrog were both part of the mentor-group that sparred with the participating companies at the bootcamp. Theis and Roar both work for Copenhagen City Properties, Facility Management and Procurement and have retail knowledge about the available data and problems regarding the reduction of energy consumption in buildings. We therefore asked them to share their thoughts and experiences from the AI4Cities Bootcamp.

What did you get out of participating in the bootcamp and how did you gain a greater knowledge of the market?

Roar: One of the central things about AI is that you have some really clever people that know how to develop really exciting technological solutions, but there are very few cities in the world that have the strong data infrastructure required for such solutions. For me the bootcamp foremost became a dialogue with a lot of suppliers about which things we can actually measure and know, and which possible solutions that follow from that.

Theis: For me, the first thing that stood out was that you through this setup got the chance to hear presentations from companies on very different stages of development. And this variation both made it extremely interesting to hear about what was on the market and what the big companies were working with, but also to gain an insight into what’s stirring right down in startup format. I gained a greater knowledge of the market and my hopes were raised in respect to the possible solutions that can emerge from AI4Cities over time.

What do you think the companies got out of participating in the bootcamp?

Roar: What I really noticed was how positive the companies were about engaging in this dialogue and receiving information and sparring with a potential customer. It definitely made me want to engage in such talks again in the future.

Theis: A positive reality check. What reality are they selling to? How do we perceive their ideas? It definitely feels like we helped to qualify some potential products, especially for the smaller startups that really could use the inputs from us as a municipality.

Was there something you learned or experienced that surprised you?

Theis: Before the bootcamp I had my doubts about how many companies that would like to be part of a project like this and how much energy they would use on this. I was positively surprised about how much commitment they had put into their presentations.
Roar: Many of the ideas that they had that were incredibly interesting and groundbreaking. Besides that, I was also positively surprised about how much we learned from talking to each other in a way that was well-structured and constructive.

The experiences gained from the AI4Cities Bootcamp show how an online bootcamp can be a great tool for an open market dialogue. Companies on very different stages of development got to pitch ideas, engage in a dialogue on available data and possible solutions. And through that receive a positive reality check that can help qualify potential products. At the same time the companies’ commitment to the project raised hopes in respect to the possible solutions that can emerge from AI4Cities over time