In South Tyrol, a startup wants to create an artificial intelligence hub

In South Tyrol, a startup wants to create an artificial intelligence hub

In South Tyrol

Covision Lab wants to aggregate an open innovation system and push for the birth of new innovative companies in the field of computer vision and deep learning

The Covision Lab headquarters at the Durst HQ (Photo Covision Lab) new companies do not happen by chance, they are built. Even beyond the traditional startup incubation models. What has been changing in recent years is the organization and development model of the structure behind the startup. In Silicon Valley, some different models are being structured, such as venture builders, startup factories and other structures that seek to lower the mortality of new innovative companies born from below. The new ways of giving birth to innovative companies have now come to us too.

In South Tyrol, to be precise in Bressanone, there is one. In one of the most interesting areas for innovation in the tech world 18 months ago Covision Lab was born, founded and led by Franz Tschimben, 32, a past in Silicon Valley: from 2015 to 2019 in California and the return in Italy with the ambition to do more than just business. Covision Lab was born with a hybrid form: it is a research and development center and a company builder focused on two key technologies: computer vision and deep learning, one of the branches of artificial intelligence.

Covision Lab was born from the will of seven Italian companies with an international vocation (Durst Group, TtControl, Microtec, Alupress, Microgate, Mpd, Barbieri Electronics) to create a single consortium capable of generating innovation and doing business. "Our business model - explains Tschimben - is based on three pillars: working with the founding companies and other companies on the two key technologies, launching startups, collaborating with the innovation and technology office of the Province of Bolzano".

Together with the seven founding companies, Covision Lab has worked on specific computer vision applications. For example, quality control on wood and printing, autonomous driving of special vehicles for agriculture, improvement of color measurement. These are all activities that solve concrete problems and innovate to give founders greater efficiency and a competitive advantage in specific areas of their activities.

The Covision Lab team, at the center Franz Tschimben (Photo Covision Lab)

Fashion in 3D

But the South Tyrolean center of excellence, which has the ambition to become a model of open innovation to be followed also in other parts of Italy and Europe, also creates startups. For example, Covision Media. “The internal startup on the fashion and sporting goods market for the automatic digitization of the collections of companies in the sector”, says Tschimben. The 3D model is used to generate animated videos for the end customer, but also for the digitization of the sampling process.

“It is a crucial step - says Tschimben - and little known“. All final samples are usually hand made in supplier countries such as India and Bangladesh. When it comes to the final garment, for example a jacket, the designer wants to see it in five colors or ten different combinations: so you need to make a lot of them and this takes time and materials. “Just to sample all the variants of a leather shoe - says Tschimben - it takes days, sometimes weeks. In this way, you can make a single copy and then virtually produce the variants you need, reducing the cost of the material and above all the time required, a fundamental thing for fashion and sporting goods companies ".

System of Covision Quality metal parts quality analysis to identify manufacturing defects (Photo Covision Lab)

Industry revolution 4.0

Another internal startup is Covision Quality: an automated quality control system for parts, which is was obtained by integrating a robotic arm with an artificial vision system, which then uses a second neural network to analyze the image of the various components pixel by pixel and find defects invisible to the human eye or to traditional measuring instruments. "The algorithm also works on wood and textiles, but we are focusing on the metal market and the industries where it is used: automotive, aerospace, medical, construction. The metal industry is among the most important in Europe: in Germany about 3.9 million people, 10% of the workforce, work in this sector ", explains the founder.

The future of the two first internal startups is to grow, if operational and applied research and development are sufficiently robust, and then enter the market independently. Meanwhile, Covision Lab is working on other potential lines of development, possible future startups. "Only in this mod - says Tschimben - is it possible to face the competition in the field of artificial intelligence with the United States and China. Europe must hurry up and companies must create a system, because we start later and with a much smaller system scale ».

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