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Ahold Delhaize Launches AI Research Initiative

Project aims to unlock 'countless possibilities for the retail industry'

Ahold Delhaize has struck a new partnership that will explore how artificial intelligence can be used to make product recommendations for shoppers and better manage the flow of goods.

The Netherlands-based retailer is partnering with the first lab for the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI), a public-private lab that officially launched at Amsterdam Science Park this week.

ICAI focuses on the joint development of AI technology through industry labs with the business sector, government and knowledge institutes. It was initiated by the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam.

In the joint ICAI-Ahold Delhaize industry lab, known as the AIRLab, seven researchers will study socially responsible algorithms that can be used to make recommendations to consumers and into transparent AI technology for managing goods flows, the retailer said. The research will take place at the company’s Albert Heijn retail chain and its bol.com e-commerce site. AIRLab will also focus on talent development tracks.

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“Artificial intelligence offers countless possibilities for the retail industry, the consumer and society at large,” Frans Muller, deputy CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said in a statement. “With this partnership, we want to further develop our ongoing initiatives and learn how AI can be used to better serve the interests of our customers. For instance, we will look at how to further optimize Albert Heijn’s supply chain by, for example, improving the availability of goods by taking into account local weather conditions. Also, we will investigate ways to make the assortment of bol.com even more accessible to customers. These insights and knowledge can be applied to our brands in the United States and Europe.”

“AI will influence every sector of society,” said Maarten de Rijke, director of ICAI and professor of Information Retrieval at the University of Amsterdam. “The partnership with Ahold Delhaize is of major importance because with it we are making a serious investment in the development of AI talent and AI technology outside of the traditional technology sector.”

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