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Expert Day – FHNW

By Milena Perraudin, data innovation alliance

The Expert Day on March 19, 2024 was held for the first time at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) in Brugg-Windisch. Welcoming over 40 participants, the event enfolded plenty of opportunities for engagement within the three Expert Groups: ‘Smart Maintenance’, ‘AI in Finance & Insurance’,  and ‘Spatial Data’ as well as the Expert Group in planning ‘Governance for Growth with Data & AI’. For those interested in joining the latter group, please contact us at

The event started with two thought-provoking keynotes. The first ‘Eyes on Human-Data Interaction’ by Prof. Dr. Arzu Çöltekin, FHNW, highlighted how eye movement tracking can enhance human-computer interactions, emphasizing the importance of designing data-based products with the end user in mind. The second keynote, ‘Lessons learned on scaling after 1 year of GenAI’, by Dr. Marcin Pietrzyk, co-founder and CEO of Unit8, shed light on the significance of GenAI and its mostly underused potential in realizing value in production at scale. A fact that the data innovation alliance wants to address together with the Innovation Boosters Artificial Intelligence and Databooster, powered by Innosuisse.

Following the keynotes, participants engaged in four breakout sessions, each focusing on a specific topic. The following paragraphs will give you a short insight into the different breakout sessions.

Workshop ‘The Future of Financial Data Analytics’ by Expert Group AI in Finance & Insurance

The Expert Group meeting jointly organized by Marc Vendramet, Andreas Blum from Unit8, and Branka Hadji Misheva from BFH, delved into two primary topics. Firstly, it offered a comprehensive exploration of AI & analytics use cases within the finance sector. Secondly, it involved brainstorming on the group’s focus areas for the upcoming year, including discussions on new event formats and collaborations.

Highlights were talks by Nicole Königstein of Wyden Capital, who shared insights on financial times series prediction in the age of transformers, and Guillaume Raille from Unit8, who presented various examples of LLMs’ use beyond chatbots, along with a detailed discussion on the challenges and opportunities associated with applying advanced LLM technologies to real-world cases.

Workshop Governance for Growth with Data & AI

Participants of this workshop gathered to delve into the full spectrum of Governance and Growth theme, as well as the opportunities with Data & AI. Frank Seifert, from adesso Schweiz AG, introduced a comprehensive management model for Governance, while Dr. Omran Ayob, from SUPSI, delved deep into the critical aspect of explainability in data governance. Participants engaged in lively discussions about the challenge of achieving higher data or model transparency (Explainability) while avoiding privacy issues.

The tension between the desire for a minimum level of governance and the need to work simply and leverage Data & AI opportunities became apparent. On one hand, holistic approaches are necessary, but on the other hand, there is a need for concrete, easily implementable measures. It’s precisely this tension that makes the topic so intriguing.

The group will continue working in this area by examining various layers of the topic, especially legal, technical, and ethical aspects, and developing Governance approaches and impulses for Growth opportunities. Our current vision includes guidelines and processes on one hand, and concrete tips and tools on the other.

Workshop ‘Hybrid approaches to intelligent maintenance’ by Expert Group Smart Maintenance

First, Dr. Kai Hencken from ABB corporate research started with an overview of predictive maintenance strategies at ABB, emphasizing the utility of traditional statistical reliability models in addressing data scarcity challenges.

After, an open discussion among participants followed, exploring potential use cases for AI integration with domain knowledge in their respective companies. Examples included condition monitoring of trains and digital twins for gas turbines. Technical solutions such as few-shot learning and the role of LLMs and generative AI in advancing condition-based and predictive maintenance were also examined.

The day concluded with an Apéro, fostering further discussions about innovative ideas among participants. We are already looking forward to the next event, as we are convinced that together we move faster.