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Ever wondered what AI is and why it’s such a hot topic today? Find out how to build a successful start-up in the field of machine learning, and meet the entrepreneurs that are leading the way.

A group of Imperial College Business School students (Florence Keutner, Amerigo De Agostini, Johannes Barth, Thomas Clayson, and Leonore Tauber) teamed up with Nina Weber and START Global – a student association for entrepreneurship and technology at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland – to organise a satellite START conference with the theme ‘How AI Will Shape the World: Applications, Opportunities, and Future’.

Partially sponsored by Pivigo, the conference was held at the Business School on 6 March 2017. This student-led event brought together students and academics from different universities, industry experts and start-up entrepreneurs to discuss artificial intelligence, its exponential growth, and the challenges it is rapidly setting for the future.

The goal of the conference was to bridge the gap between business and technology, so there was no better setting than Imperial College Business School – the hub for leading academic research in the field of entrepreneurship and AI.

Fourteen speakers shared their insights on the subject – with a workshop on how to start a successful AI start-up, and a panel discussion debating the challenges and opportunities that AI is bringing to the business world and wider society.

We learned a great deal about artificial intelligence and its applications. Did you know that AI software can run and automatise marketing campaigns for big firms? Or that AI can be used for image recognition on a vast scale?

Can you imagine the future of shopping consisting of simply walking into a shop and then back out with groceries, with payment happening wirelessly in the background?

The aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience were advised on which tools to use – for example, for programming: “Python for beginners, Python for intermediates and Python for experts,” said Kyriacos Nikiforou, a PhD student in Computational Neurodynamics Lab at Imperial College London, under the supervision of Professor Murray Shanahan. Other useful advice from Rodolfo Rosini, CEO and Co-founder of Weave.ai, included “Luck needs preparation” and “Never use your own money to launch a start-up!”

The final panel on the future of AI was chaired by Chris Corbishley from the Enterprise Lab and brought together Matt Fenech from Future Advocacy, Dr Peter Bentley from Braintree, Ed Bishop from CheckRecipient, Ben Woolf from ANDi Games and Jason Muller COO of Pivigo.

The event concluded with pizzas and drinks at Eastside Bar on campus, where speakers and students were able to connect on a more personal level.

The event committee’s aim was to strengthen regional entrepreneurship scenes by bringing together technology and business in a knowledge and technology-oriented exchange between students, professionals and academia. We are currently working with Chris Corbishley to organise a similar event for next year, using everything we have learned this time to make the 2018 event even better.

We are delighted that the conference was such a success, and that we were able to establish a valuable relationship between Imperial College Business School and the University of St. Gallen. We look forward to future events.

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