Smart maps receive this year’s sustainable innovation

award in Umeå

With the help of machine learning, open data becomes even more accessible in William Lidberg’s tool Geographic Intelligence. Now he is awarded the SLU’s and Sparbankstiftelsen Norrland’s innovation prize 2023.

Winning the competition is a confirmation in the quality of the idea. Especially when it comes to a technical solution that is not so easy to explain. I appreciate that the jury see the value in it, says William Lidberg, researcher at Sweden’s Agricultural University.

To develop his prized tool, William has collected a large amount of open geodata from Swedish authorities. From the data he has created a map, a “digital twin”, of Sweden that is adapted for machine learning. It has not been a simple process.

Some authorities provide data in more or less accessible ways, on servers you can request access to and in outdated file formats. You have to learn to adapt and how to navigate, says William Lidberg.

With the help of an AI tool, new data series can also be entered and tested against the existing map to quickly find out if the result is useful. This is something that authorities and companies today are forced to spend both time and money on developing and testing themselves, but which can now be evaluated in just a few minutes.

Support to start a start up

When William realized the new model could be useful for a number of different companies and authorities, he contacted SLU Holding. With their help, he developed the business idea to create a company with a clear business plan. An important partnership, according to William Lidberg.

SLU Holding have been able to help me with the law, what you can and cannot do. With their help, I got in contact with Uminova where I attended a start up-program and verified the value of my idea against different companies. It has been very helpful; they know the pitfalls in business development and how to avoid them, says William.

The Innovation prize, SEK 50,000, will finance the next step in developing Geographic Intelligence.

Now we can scale up the digital twin so it becomes even bigger and better. The prototype I have now runs on an old computer in the basement and exists mostly to show that the code works. Soon it can be tested at different companies, says William Lidberg researcher at SLU.


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