Ahold Delhaize Partners Abroad for Artificial-Intelligence Research
International grocery company Ahold Delhaize is working to increase its focus on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, joining the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) to open its first laboratory.
ICAI, which officially launched at Amsterdam Science Park in the Netherlands, is focused on joint development of technology through industry labs with the business sector, government and knowledge institutes. In the AIRLab, seven Ph.D.’s will conduct research into socially responsible algorithms that can be used to make recommendations to consumers and into transparent AI technology for managing goods flows. The research will take place at Ahold’s Albert Heijn banner and its bol.com ecommerce arm.
Additionally, AIRLab will focus on talent-development tracks.
“Artificial intelligence offers countless possibilities for the retail industry, the consumer and society at large,” said Frans Muller, deputy CEO of the Zaandam, Netherlands-based retail company. “With this partnership, we want to further develop our ongoing initiatives and learn how AI can be used to better serve the interests of our customers.”
Muller stressed that insights learned in the new lab can be applied to not only Ahold Delhaize’s European brands, but also its ones in the United States: Food Lion, Hannaford, Giant/Martin’s, Giant and Stop & Shop banners, as well as online grocer Peapod.
“For instance, we will look at how to further optimize Albert Heijn’s supply chain by, for example, improving the availability of goods by taking into account local weather conditions,” he added. “Also, we will investigate ways to make the assortment of bol.com even more accessible to customers.”
The Netherlands has a long tradition in AI education at all levels of higher education. ICAI’s mission is to keep the Netherlands striving for innovation through AI, especially by “attracting, managing and retaining top talent,” as well as by linking that talent with the business sector, De Rijke asserted.
“AI will influence every sector of society,” he said. “The partnership with Ahold Delhaize is of major importance because with it we are making a serious investment in the development of AI talent and AI technology outside of the traditional technology sector.”