Students help small and medium-sized companies see the potential of AI

In four degree projects, students have taken on the challenges that small and medium-sized companies face when they face the use of artificial intelligence
The overall two-year project is funded by ÅForsk, to help companies with the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in various areas such as product development, manufacturing, logistics, SCM, marketing, and sales.
The four student teams have spent the spring term analysing the companies' situation, studying the benefits and challenges of AI in the corporate world, and then proposing solutions for the five small and medium-sized companies. Some of the obstacles that these companies often encounter are resource constraints, limited knowledge, and organisational as they aim for cutting-edge process innovation. But on the upside, cost reductions, greater flexibility, and customer orientation await.

"By engaging students in degree projects within a research project, we show the students the connection between the studies in the degree programmes and what we do in research, and the connection to the business community. And for the companies, we also want to show the fantastic opportunities that exist in offering degree projects to our students," says Jonas Waidringer, research group leader and project manager for the research project Automation and AI Applications in Small and Medium-sized Companies.

On 28 May, the students presented their results to their classmates, examiners and industry partners. Although it was a special moment to have their degree within reach, they appreciated the interaction with the industry partners from the fashion, automotive, logistics, IT and automation industries, which led to an in-depth discussion that was mutually beneficial.

"One project is about how a company can apply AI in the manufacture of machine parts, another about how AI can be used for product development, and a third about image recognition in automated spare parts ordering. The fourth project has an overall perspective, namely to investigate what is called ‘Explainable AI’, i.e. how understanding and transparency at the time of implementation affect the acceptance of applications in artificial intelligence,” Jonas explains.

Now the students have finished their degree projects and move on to further studies or work in industry. The work of our industrial partners has only just begun – they must take into account the students' results for a future of AI-driven business operations.

See the degree projects in DiVA

Explainable AI and transparency in AI systems for SMEs, Herman Beronius and Hilda Malmfors

AI-enabled automation for SMEs: prerequisites and opportunities for implementation and operation, William Andersson Bertilsson and Moa Lindqvist

Adopting AI in product development: A study on small-to-medium sized enterprises, Benet Tahiri and Oscar Karem

Optimization of operations: AI implementation and image recognition in small and medium-sized businesses, Bawan Kochar and David Hoang