Data & AI: challenges for both start-ups and multinationals

Students from the Master’s AI completed the program offered by Idiap and Swiss Distance University. Thanks to their project integrated in a company, many of them are receiving job offers from their host company. This approach also fits businesses looking for digital skills.

“Artificial intelligence is a domain where there is a skills scarcity,” Ghislain Couvreur, Vima Link’s CEO in Martigny, explains. “For our start-up the Master’s in AI allows us to attract and retain talents, while having a direct access to scientific knowledge and ressources from Idiap.” Marco Scita, digitalization project manager in the Quality Unit on the Merck Serono Aubonne site, shares this point of view. “In the framework of this program, Idiap’s teachers were both technical coaches for our student and technical consultant for the company.” The exchange is advantageous, as in both cases students were hired by their host company.

Win-win collaboration

Beyond the priviledged access to skilled people, the program is also an opportunity for companies to explore their innovation potential thanks to data and artificial intelligence. For the particularly reglemented medications production at Merck Serono, following standards is essential to ensure quality. “Procedures, rules and compliance guarantee patients’ security and products caracteristics on the market, but, sometimes, it can slow down innovation. We needed an external, academic, point of view to see how to exploit our data. Thanks to our student and Idiap, we were able to have the right skills for our project, which would not have been possible with a normal trainee,” Scita explains. The result is an app allowing members of the Quality Unity to research efficiently our massive historical data in relation with standards about medications production and controlling.

“Our student, who will soon become our employee, is truelly amazing,” Couvreur explains. “He’s very committed and brings us both professional and soft skills. To me, from the beginning, he was as any other employee, and it seemed natural to include him in all the workshops about the company, including about its strategy. He took the entire responsibility to design the model of the emmotionnal artificial intelligence based on visual, audio and language analysis. As AI related rules are currently discussed at the European level and will impact us, our student also analyzed these future standards and created a roadmap to reassure the public that we have a strong work ethic.”

Technical and human skills selection

These matchings between students and companies are possible thanks preselection made by Idiap, which, then, submits candidates profiles to partner companies. “The candidates were really diverse and good. We only had to choose our student based on our internal needs. In this case, we were looking for someone with a cumoter oriented attitude to be able to work in collaboration with about 120 people ranging from managers to technicians. This approach was among the elements that convinced the management of the potential of this project,” Scita explains.

More information

-    Master AI
-    Vima Link SA
-    Merck Serono SA