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Feb 13, 2020

Philips and Ahold Delhaize announce first Kickstart AI joint appointments

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Philips and Ahold Delhaize today announced their first Kickstart AI joint appointments to help the Netherlands strengthen AI research and education capabilities and train the next generation of AI researchers in the Netherlands. These appointments represent the first steps in the companies’ commitment to the Kickstart AI platform, announced on 10 October 2019. Ahold Delhaize will welcome Sebastian Schelter, Ph.D., currently a Faculty Fellow with the Center for Data Science at New York University, as an appointment to the faculty of University of Amsterdam, while Philips’ Nicola Pezzotti, Senior Scientist in Artificial Intelligence, has been appointed as part-time assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology. 


A joint appointment of academic staff represents a concrete investment in private-public collaboration by enabling researchers to work in both industry and in university. The Kickstart AI members, Ahold Delhaize, ING, KLM, NS and Philips, have each committed to establishing five joint appointments to academic institutions in the Netherlands, representing 25 positions in total. These joint appointments are designed to increase educational capacity for AI Bachelor and Master students in the Netherlands. They will also address several additional issues within the field of AI research in the Netherlands, including the AI talent drain and the development of a local Dutch AI eco-system. 


The positions provide benefits to the academics through access to greater company resources while simultaneously working on real-world problems facing the companies. In addition, these joint appointments strengthen the links between universities and companies in order to develop a more efficient innovation pipeline and increase research productivity for both.


Sebastian Schelter’s research focuses on the intersection of data management and machine learning. He has extensive experience in building real world systems for companies such as Amazon Research, Twitter, IBM Research and Zalando. In addition to his theoretical and business achievements, Sebastian has a strong belief that modern data analysis can have a significant impact in answering pressing societal questions. Dr. Schelter’s work with Ahold Delhaize will focus on effectively managing vast quantities of data and enable the deployment of algorithmic solutions. Such solutions include better forecasting product demand for stores and more efficient routing of trucks, both of which could reduce waste. Dr. Schelter will start on 1 April 2020. 


Nicola Pezzotti’s research at Philips focuses on the development of advanced medical imaging and health informatics solutions enabled by AI. His work covers both theoretical research as well as the implementation of large and stable software algorithms to empower AI researchers and developers. Dr. Pezzotti obtained his PhD cum laude from Delft University of Technology, and he has worked at the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (INRIA) in France as a visiting scientist. More joint appointments will be announced in the coming months.


Kickstart AI is a platform aimed at boosting the AI ecosystem in the Netherlands by accelerating and promoting the development of AI technology and nurturing AI talent in the country. The goal of Kickstart AI is to bridge the gap between the Netherlands and other leading countries that have made notable progress in Artificial Intelligence. The platform is driven by five Dutch companies: Ahold Delhaize, ING, KLM, NS and Royal Philips. This joint effort will add educational capacity, foster the development of the AI community in the Netherlands, and reiterate the position of the Netherlands as a competitive and relevant global AI hub. For more information visit


Philips is also a member of the Netherlands AI Coalition: the platform for collaboration between businesses, research and education centers, governments and representatives of Dutch society. Its action plan is centered around the following common pillars: (a) human capital, (b) research & innovation, (c) data sharing, (d) social acceptance and (e) start-ups and scale ups. The coalition is pivotal for parties active or involved in AI applications in many areas and markets or for societal challenges.

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Steve Klink

Steve Klink

Philips Global Press Office

Tel: +31 6 10888824

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