'LAB42 should be a Talent Hub – the place to be for students, researchers and businesses that are active in the field of AI and informatics.' This is the view of Esther Smit, whose responsibilities as business director at the Informatics Institute include external relations.
The new building will be a place for students, educators, researchers and entrepreneurs to come together. As a consequence, part of the site will be given over to co-creation: partnerships between students, researchers and businesses in the field of AI and informatics. Smit is closely involved in this development.
Businesses will be able to hire spaces on the second and third floors of LAB42 to set up an office, she explains. 'The meeting rooms for researchers and entrepreneurs will be on the same floor, they will share a number of facilities and there will be lounge areas for them to meet. We mainly focus on attracting SMEs, such as start-ups that have become too big for Amsterdam Science Park's Startup Village. A selection committee will decide which businesses will be welcome. The main criterion is that their core business should be a good fit for the topics that our students and researchers are involved in, such as data sciences, AI and infrastructure. This will allow us to create added value.'
Smit emphasises that it is not purely a matter of renting out space. 'In order to encourage co-creation, we want to build a community. We aim to do this by organising additional activities to encourage interaction between students, researchers and entrepreneurs both within and outside LAB42. Such activities could include events and knowledge-sharing meet-ups, for example. This is how we hope to promote cooperation, prompt innovations and become a breeding ground for talent.' In addition, Smit wants to strengthen ties with various public organisations and the Amsterdam Data Science networking organisation.
It is vitally important to remain in the vanguard when it comes to technological developments, both in the Netherlands and internationally. For this reason, Smit believes that it is a huge advantage for students, researchers and SMEs to be occupying the same physical space. 'The threshold to meet each other will be low, making this co-creation concept unique and highly attractive to all parties. As an additional benefit, we'll be able to match businesses to students' graduation projects.' Smit is convinced that the concept will attract talent. 'Let's not forget: talent is what you need for continuous innovation.'
That being said, it is still too soon to start inviting businesses in earnest. 'After all, it will take two years for the building to be completed once construction is under way. Information about the various opportunities to rent will be made available online as soon as we start laying the building's foundations.'