First IndesIA forum: The impact of artificial intelligence on the industry

The application of data and artificial intelligence in Spanish industry will have an estimated impact of 16.5 billion euros on GDP by 2025

Press Release 09/02/2022 16:30
  • Institutional representatives and experts from the academic and business fields explain the opportunity that the use of technology based on data and artificial intelligence represents for the growth of the country.
  • Spain has a solid and sophisticated infrastructure that allows the promotion of artificial intelligence to be carried out in better conditions than in other European Union countries.
  • The sustainability of AI and the lack of talent, especially female, are some of the challenges that the business world faces when applying new technologies.

Madrid, February 9, 2022.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the best opportunities for the growth of the Spanish economy. Its application in industry alone will have an estimated impact on the Spanish GDP of 16.5 billion euros by 2025, according to experts who today met at the “1st IndesIA Forum: Artificial Intelligence and its impact on Industry”. 

The meeting was organized by IndesIA, the association for the application of artificial intelligence in industry made up of Repsol, Gestamp, Navantia, Técnicas Reunidas, Telefónica, Microsoft, Airbus, and Ferrovial, which receives support from the Basque Artificial Intelligence Center (BAIC) and Accenture. In it, the main directors of the associated companies, benchmark companies, and experts in this field shared their reflexions on the role of artificial intelligence in boosting the economy, improving competitiveness, and the future of Spanish and European industry at Repsol’s headquarters.

All of them spoke about the transformation that the country needs and highlighted the privileged position that Spain has to advance in it, as it already has a solid and sophisticated infrastructure available for broadband, fiber, and 5G connection, something that allows the promotion of artificial intelligence to be carried out in better conditions than in other European Union countries. Furthermore, they pointed out that the country already has leading companies in very relevant sectors, such as banking, telecommunications, and energy that are already using AI. They are organizations that act as catalysts for the rest of companies. In addition to this, according to the experts, is Spain's capacity to train and attract talent and the opportunity provided by the European recovery funds, as long as they are used in a unified manner with collaboration between the different administrations and companies.

Another of the points they addressed is the need to break the fear of using technology by SMEs, and also the creation of proprietary technology to not depend solely on what is being developed in other nations. Artificial intelligence is a tool of power and sovereignty, so its adaptation to industry and the rest of companies can't depend on the development of it in each country.

Sharing use cases and data spaces

At the 1st IndesIA Forum, the main challenges facing industry were set out, which mainly involve increasing competitiveness. In order to address them, the solution agreed by the speakers was to identify the use cases in which the application of artificial intelligence would be of substantial help. Therefore, it was explained in the meeting that artificial intelligence can be used, for example, for the creation of smart, autonomous, flexible, sustainable, and virtualized factories; for predictive maintenance; to improve efficiency; or prevent possible incidents at the production plants, generating a culture of prevention and anticipation that boosts productivity and efficiency.

Sharing these cases facilitates the challenge of making the country a benchmark for data transformation. But you also have to take into account the data ethics and its regulation, which until now depends on each country. It is also necessary to create data spaces under the premise of achieving its democratization and access; that is, by encouraging sharing and processing so that they do not remain stored in silos and connecting them between different domains and contexts to be able to interoperate them and achieve real, actionable business value.

In this regard, the participants in the IndesIA Forum pointed out the need to capture quality data, to build these spaces bit by bit, and above all, to establish some necessary standards that guarantee trust. About this aspect they warned that the difficulty isn’t technological, but organizational, that is, being capable of finding consensus frameworks and being able to carry them out taking into account the specific needs of each company.

Promoting sustainability

Aside from economic growth, at the 1st IndesIA Forum the impact that AI has on sustainability and how it is possible to create “green algorithms” to contribute to energy efficiency, the development of new materials, or the reinforcement of the circular economy was also explained.

The speakers stressed that we are at a key moment in terms of sustainability and industry, something that we have been working on for a long time. There are currently technological developments that will be applied and used bit by bit thanks to the application of the macroeconomy, computational algorithms, and the distribution models in companies.

Artificial intelligence and the use of data offer the chance to achieve energy efficiency in industry, an aspect currently of great importance, due to the energy transition that we are experiencing and the commitment to sustainability that benefits society as a whole. In this regard, they explained that we also have to work on the reduction of the energy consumption involved in artificial intelligence itself. Among the solutions would be the use of supercomputing to address the management and operations of more data with the same energy and in less time.

Need for training

Talent and training is needed to implement all this “data revolution”. Over the next three years, companies from the industrial sector alone will need more than 90,000 professionals that are experts in data and artificial intelligence to be able to carry out their projects, boost the economy of the country, and be able to compete with other international organizations. The lack of qualified personnel in data and artificial intelligence represents an obstacle for the growth of companies and therefore for the economic recovery.

There is a growing demand for professionals who have knowledge of AI, proof of that is that today there are 300 jobs related to artificial intelligence advertised on LinkedIn just in Madrid which also don’t just refer to data science or more purely technological professions, also professionals of any field who know how to contextualize the use of AI in their sector and in their field of work, such as those specializing in ethics or data humanism.

In this regard, they regretted that, compared to Spain's youth unemployment figures, there are 200,000 STEM jobs that will not be filled in the next two years.

For this reason they warned of the need to adapt academic curricula and training programs to introduce Artificial Intelligence in the new degrees and those that already exist, to train all those professionals who are so scarce and so in demand.

They pointed out that it is also necessary to train employees who are already part of organizations and their leaders and above all to encourage women, 50% of the population and talent, to join this transformation, as only 1 in 5 artificial intelligence professionals is female and only 10% of IT graduates are women, a figure that they noted is lower in the case of vocational training studies.

First IndesIA Forum

Repsol CEO, Josu Jon Imaz, was tasked with opening the 1st IndesIA Forum, who valued the unique moment we are experiencing to favor the promotion of the industrial network transformation. He pointed out that the maturity level in Spain in the use of these technologies is very varied, as there are companies that started this journey several years ago, but there is also a very significant network of companies, especially small and medium, that are starting their digital transformation processes. For this reason, he warned that companies have to join forces, learn and teach, share experiences, and accelerate the transfer of this technology to the entire value chain, especially to SMEs.

After his intervention, the secretary-general of Industry and Small and Medium Companies. Raúl Blanco Díaz, from the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism highlighted that industry is the basis of productivity and the growth of the economy. For this reason he positively valued the great work that companies from the sector are doing, advancing in their recovery after the situation caused by the pandemic, and that many of them have already reached pre-pandemic rates. As such, he pointed out the Government's commitment to plans related to the promotion of Artificial Intelligence and digitalization and announced that a 150 million-euro financing plan for Industry 4.0 will be launched around the end of March. He also referred to some initiatives that have already been presented such as the PERTE related to mobility and the promotion of the electric vehicle, that related to the agri-food sector, and to the naval sector.

For his part the Microsoft Chief Data Officer and corporate vice president, Hernán Asorey, highlighted in his keynote that the aim is that interactions with AI be as human as possible, so that they act in a way that people need and also that no one is left behind. He defined the ethical principles that should take precedence when working with artificial intelligence, which according to Asorey are: justice, reliability, inclusiveness, privacy and security, responsibility, and transparency.

All the CEOs of the proactive businesses in IndesIA were also present at the event and they stressed the need to promote Spain as an international benchmark in artificial intelligence. They also showed their firm belief in how the integration of artificial intelligence in their organizations can contribute to the growth, modernization, and competitiveness of national industry.

For his part, the president of IndesIA, Valero Marín, explained how IndesIA was born and his confidence that more and more companies join the association, especially SMEs, technology, and training centers. He then gave the floor to the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence of the Spanish Government, Carme Artigas, to close the meeting, who referred to the commitment that the country has for innovation and technological disruption, fostering sectoral digitalization processes crucial for the integration of AI in value chains.

Artigas affirmed that, by 2030, 75% of companies will have to incorporate artificial intelligence and data into their processes, something that will only be achieved if we facilitate SMEs's access to change. In this regard she valued that the Administration can’t achieve the conversion to a more digital industry alone, which is why she highly valued the union of the companies that make up IndesIA and its intention to be a catalyst that brings together all the organizations in the sector to promote the country's competitiveness. Above all, at a time that she cataloged as the Reindustrialization of the 21st Century and in which Spain must become an innovation hub.

About IndesIA

IndesIA is a Spanish association of artificial intelligence for industry, made up of eight large Spanish companies Repsol, Gestamp, Navantia, Técnicas Reunidas, Telefónica, Microsoft, Airbus, and Ferrovial and which receives support from the Basque Artificial Intelligence Center (BAIC) and Accenture. Its goal is to position Spain as a leader in data and artificial intelligence applications for industry and stimulate the development of the economy and recovery of the country.