Zenuity’s CEO, Dennis Nobelius, sees clear links between mobility and the development in digital health and life science. Especially in artificial intelligence (AI).
Dennis explained this during an on-stage interview focused on the Gothenburg region’s future opportunities at the annual Business Region Gothenburg seminar on the economic climate in the region.
Zenuity develops software for self-driving cars and is one of the Gothenburg region’s most future-oriented and fast-growing companies. With the ability to attract important international skills and experience.
Dennis Nobelius, who was interviewed by Fredrik Sundh, highlighted topics including the cross-fertilization of ideas and information between AI and life science, where the collection and analysis of large amounts of data are important success factors. Just like in the automotive industry.
“There are many synergies to achieve together with life science. AI is really an important area, especially for health and medical care. By succeeding to attract this type of expertise, Gothenburg is building a solid foundation on which to build further success. Things have started very well with collaborations across traditional boundaries,” says Dennis Nobelius.
The company got off to a flying start in 2016 and now has 600 employees worldwide, of which 400 are in Gothenburg. And the numbers continue to grow on a weekly basis.
Zenuity is owned 50 percent by Volvo Cars and 50 percent by Veoneer, a spin-off from Autoliv. These are two robust, safety-oriented companies with significant IP and industry experience which is, of course, a huge development asset.
“The idea is to develop “the brain of the car”. Daring to incorporate new thinking and being open to new stimuli, as well as pushing the boundaries, is important,” says Dennis Nobelius.
By 2025, the vision is that every third car from Volvo Cars will be self-driving. And that this will be a smooth transition and one that is a hundred times safer than when a person drives, thanks to software from Zenuity. No one likes stop and go traffic, so this is the number one priority. The second priority is commuting to work and parking.
“It’s a lot about trust,” says Dennis Nobelius, who makes a connection to judo when it comes to collaboration. Dennis was himself in the top three at judo in the Nordic region.
“A small player can take on a big player and utilize the bigger player’s power to his/her advantage. As long as both players develop together, it works, even with a competitor.
Test environments are important. When Zenuity moved into the newly-built building at Lindholmen in Gothenburg, the company did not fill the second floor. Instead, they chose to establish the Mobility X-Lab start-up arena, which is backed by six companies in the region.
“We created a meeting place to facilitate interactions. The difficulty for start-ups is to be able to get access to larger companies and to form a relationship. They can get this though Mobility X-lab, and then they have the opportunity to continue developing in the region.
We can create more arenas and collaborations in other areas,” says Dennis Nobelius.
Openness is a keyword. A cross-border way of working without prestige is one of the region’s primary strengths. Besides ensuring there are the right skills, continued development is important for competitiveness.
“International researchers ask questions like: Are you at the technological forefront? Do you stay close to researchers? It is super important to be able to show that we continue to invest.”
The major investment in the national collaboration arena for research in artificial intelligence, AI INNOVATION of Sweden, is a way forward. Zenuity was part of the group that founded this test bed, which is currently being established at Lindholmen.
“It is about strengthening Sweden and the Nordic region by having an AI base located in one place. And that we can provide the centre with data that is ethically managed,” says Dennis Nobelius.
Access to data is often the gap. Open data is a key success factor. 100 researchers with access to a lot of interesting and relevant data can create value in many areas.
An exciting future lies ahead of us with valuable collaboration opportunities at the AI centre, where Sahlgrenska Science Park is also an active partner. AI INNOVATION of Sweden will be inaugurated at the beginning of next year.
The possibilities for collaboration between the industries are described in Sahlgrenska Science Park’s survey report “The Power of Coaction – Life Science West Sweden 2018.” Download it here.
Text: Annika Åkervall
Photo: Michael Åkerström, Business Region Göteborg