Accelerators/Incubators Startups

SofIA, a new innovation program for startups from University of Navarra, is born

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Written by Stefano De Marzo

The first edition of SofIA, a business acceleration program promoted by the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (DATAI) of the University of Navarra that connects startups with innovative companies, kicks off.
SofIA seeks startups capable of developing technological solutions for innovative companies in sectors such as finance, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and distribution.

AXA Seguros, BBVA AI Factory, Carrefour, and Laboratorios Cinfa are the companies participating in this first edition of the program. One of the challenges SofIA is raising is the application of artificial intelligence: the prevention of claims, the empowerment of the customer in the management of their finances, the improvement of the shopping experience, and efficient production.

Iván Cordón, from the University of Navarra, pointed out that “we are living in a historic moment in which artificial intelligence will transform companies and society. Those companies that do not use data as a strategic asset will disappear. SofIA seeks to become a reference forum where startups and companies can work on disruptive solutions based on data”.

Transformative AI

SofIA is looking for startups capable of extracting knowledge from data to develop customized solutions that are easy to apply in the market. For Francisco Maturana, CEO of BBVA AI Factory, “participating in this program is a good opportunity to meet startups that provide us with their vision on how to improve the personalization of the customer experience with banking services”.

In the field of insurance for companies, specifically for industries; it is required to use existing data in the network to identify different patterns that allow the exclusion of certain risks in the case of fire. AXA Insurance wants to promote, therefore, the development of an artificial intelligence model to identify the cause of a fire damage claim in the field of business and its impact. Nieves Malagón, director of AXA Opensurance, believes that “the important thing is not the data itself, but how we use it intelligently and integrate it into every interaction with the customer so that it really has a transformative power.”

For the retail and consumer goods sector, the voice of the consumer is of great importance in the process of improvement and innovation: comments at checkout, information from the contact center, suggestions on the web, texts, images, audios… It is necessary to process this data to extract value from the different sources of information available at Carrefour. According to its Data Director, David Villarino, “at Carrefour we are working to improve the customer’s purchasing process through the personalization of communications and listening skills.”

Production efficiency in the field of healthcare also occupies a relevant space in SofIA. Laboratorios Cinfa seeks to match its production to the needs of patients so that all people, especially those suffering from serious or chronic diseases, always have access to their medicines. Julio Sánchez, Head of Innovation at Laboratorios Cinfa, believes that “in the current global context, and especially in the healthcare sector, it is more necessary than ever to have a demand prediction tool with which to adjust production plans to the circumstances that may arise in the market and thus ensure the availability of our medicines for patients”.

Interested startups can send their proposals to the University of Navarra until the end of June from the website unav.edu/sofia. On the 27th of that same month, a pitch will be held to select the most competitive in each of the challenges. From then on, they will have the following six months to provide a solution, in which they will be accompanied by the University of Navarra, which will provide the appropriate management and training by the Innovation Factory, the entrepreneurship and innovation unit of the academic center. Accenture, Amazon Web Services and Tableau will provide the necessary working tools.

About the author

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Stefano De Marzo

Stefano De Marzo is the editor of Novobrief.