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platform-enabled KITs of arTificial intelligence FOR an easy uptake by SMEs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KITT4SME (platform-enabled KITs of arTificial intelligence FOR an easy uptake by SMEs)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-09-30

SMEs are among the companies which could benefit the most from the opportunities brought by artificial intelligence solutions while, at the same time, being the ones with the least capabilities and resources to embrace them. Only one of five is highly digitized and only 20% offer ICT training to their employee. AI-based implementations need to work on well-prepared data from credible sources, which the SMEs usually lack of. SMEs and mid-caps in the manufacturing sector need support in the use of secure digital technologies in their production processes, products and business models to enable personalised products and to facilitate cost-effective small-scale production.

KITT4SME specifically targets European SMEs and mid-caps to provide them with scope-tailored and industry-ready hardware, software and organisational kits, delivered as a modularly customisable digital platform, that seamlessly introduce artificial intelligence in their production systems.

1- To make available to SMEs ready-to-use customised digital packages for embracing AI opportunities at affordable prices and proper scale
2- To seamlessly fuse AI and human problem-solving expertise into a single digital brain with unprecedented shop floor orchestration capabilities
3- To build a competence development centre that advances European workforce in line with digital skills trends and workers’ aspirations
4- To extend the offer of local ecosystem so that players with different competencies can thrive while collaborating in the creation of customisable AI kits
5- To support standardisation in the fields of sovereign data economy and characterisation of workers skills and training experiences.
In the first 12 months of the 42 month project, the following has been achieved under 9 over 10 work packages:

WP1 - SME-driven reference framework for AI uptake: The stakeholders of the project and their needs has been identified in detail and the requirements that an AI solution should satisfy are determined. The overall structure of the pilot experiments, the validation framework and the user journey has been designed. The necessary security and privacy requirements for the platform have been listed.

WP2 - Digital platform infrastructure for interoperable and trustworthy data exchange: The activities are focused on the development of the platform architecture that will act as the backbone for the platform and will guide all the technical WPs (WP3, WP3 and WP4). In parallel security requirements were analysed and development cycles were introduced to implement a small, but fully functional FIWARE stack for a first platform prototype.

WP3 - Composition of KITT4SME: obtained results supported the DIAGNOSE phase with the first release of the adaptive questionnaire and the COMPOSE phase with the planning and design of the RAMP marketplace integration to other KITT4SME platform parts. The activities focused on designing the SME-Oriented Platform Configurator and to create digital datasheets for modules characterization.

WP4 - Artificial intelligence modules for sensing and intervening: Started at M7, the activities mainly focused on the SENSE phase, whilst the development of modules covering the INTERVENE phase will start in the next period. The technology providers in the consortium have been contacted and the documentations about their components, which leads the way to create the data structures and the data models of digital shop floor, have been consolidated.

WP5 - Digital competences and platform service evolution: Started at the M6, WP5 has focused on listing the key technologies in AI to build the map of key skills to detect the AI key archetypes. As a result, a detailed interactive network map of the technologies and related skills have been created.

WP6 - Demonstration and validation of pilots: Started at M12, WP6 starts to build the pilot setup using the initial outputs created in the T1.3 Pilots Design. During the kick-off meeting of WP6, the risks associated with each pilot and possible mitigation measures have been evaluated.

WP7 - Open calls to extend services and validation: The overall framework for announcing the first round of open calls has been structured by creating the guide for applicants, proposal templates and the application system, combined with the evaluation workflow and the grant contracts with the third parties. The Type-A open call has been launched and the respective promotion activities has been started.

WP8 - Platform promotion and adoption gravitating around DIHs ecosystems: The baseline of the methodology and the strategy for creating a DIH-centred ecosystem has been identified and a customer relationship management (CRM) system, for creating and tracking the ecosystem, has been created. The networks of the partners have been activated and the CRM began to collect the related stakeholder information which will further create an interactive map of stakeholders.

WP9 - Standardization, dissemination, exploitation and communication: The visual identity of the project, the promotional materials and the templates for both internal and external communication are created and the online tools to be used for reaching the project stakeholders like website and social media channels are activated in accordance with the communication and dissemination strategy and plan. The baseline for the IPR management has been defined and the knowledge management repository listing the assets of the project has been created.

WP10 - Project management: The practical information for the use of the partners including the quality assurance and risk management procedures has been identified. The internal collaboration platform for enabling the collaborative work of the partners has been commissioned and the issues regarding the data management and legal issues have been defined.
KITT4SME aims at facilitating the uptake of AI solutions by European SMEs exploiting a platform-ecosystem to lower AI adoption barriers and to get the most out of the data coming from the production systems. This is done by contributing to establish a European-wide ecosystem exploiting a leverage effect brought by the collaboration with existing initiatives and the launch of several open-call’ experiments. SMEs are thus guided in their digitalisation journey; their human competences are kept aligned with the technological progress and digital gaps preventing them to keep pace with the big organizations are reduced.

Digital Platforms and AI marketplaces:
KITT4SME tackles the current barriers preventing the widespread use of these B2B platforms acting at both technical and collaboration level: (i) a trustable and interoperable platform is developed by implementing a Powered by FIWARE Middleware for AI, (ii) to overcome the problem of fragmentation and vendor lock-in, Model-Driven Methodology for Modules Composability, and (iii) concrete programmes to achieve a critical mass of platform users are developed relying on the establishment of close collaboration with existing European DIHs. These achievements have not yet realized in the first period of the project.

AI for process optimization, quality improvement and reconfigurability:
KITT4SME goes beyond AI techniques inspection and improvement (e.g: computer vision), to build an AI model that identifies configuration issues in real-time to becomes aware of potential inconsistencies and errors earlier in time.