Helping Danish SMEs find ways to exploit ‘big data’

SMEs based in Denmark’s Central Jutland and Capital regions have found new ways to exploit the huge amounts of data they generate. The Innovative Use of Big Data project provided 26 companies from a variety of industrial sectors with access to some of the country’s leading researchers in data processing and visualisation. Many of the companies involved in this ERDF-backed project have developed practical products and solutions which will boost their competitiveness.

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A schematic representation of data loader pipeline architecture, which several companies in the project used as a machine learning platform. ©Alexandra Instituttet A/S / Christian Heider Nielsen (2019) A schematic representation of data loader pipeline architecture, which several companies in the project used as a machine learning platform. ©Alexandra Instituttet A/S / Christian Heider Nielsen (2019)

" SMEs have a huge unrealised business potential in using their data. AI will not ‘magically’ identify this value, though, but if you uncover your data sources, and know what you would like to get out of the data, AI can be instrumental in harnessing your data. "

Peter Andersen, Project Manager

Collaboration was key to the project’s success, as groups of two to four companies were matched with research teams to work in areas relevant to their businesses such as machine learning, use of artificial intelligence (AI), database management and 3D data visualisation. Companies were able to benefit from the project team’s extensive IT expertise and from each other as they tackled issues common to the use of big data.

From innovation to the marketplace

SMEs that took part in the project came from a range of fields such as cyber security, digital accounting, e-gaming, health diagnostics, energy optimisation and industrial automation. Many are now on the path to commercialising innovations they developed through the project. In early 2020, nine companies had products either ready for, or already on the market. A further six to nine expected to be ready within a year.

For example, one company is looking to introduce a system that will allow opticians to perform certain diagnostics that are traditionally carried out by trained eye doctors, such as detecting the early signs of diabetes from eye scans.

Another company is set to launch a new digital accounting system which can recognise accounting plans from scanned documents. This SME offers online tools to help people and companies complete their tax returns and annual reports. Collaboration with the project’s IT experts led to the development of a machine learning algorithm and the engine behind the new system.

Coping with complexity

Meanwhile, an engineering company has developed a database tool to help manage large, complex construction projects. The 3D visualisation application makes the huge amounts of data continuously being collected in a construction project available in an intuitive way.

Innovative Use of Big Data was a collaboration between the Alexandra Institute, Aarhus University, Aalborg University and a private IT networking organisation called the IT Forum. All these partners have experience and expertise in business development, digital technologies and use of data science.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Innovative use of Big Data” is EUR 1 812 081, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 603 996 through the “Innovation and Sustainable Growth in Business” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Increase the number of innovative SMEs”.

Draft date

17/06/2020