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Fostering New-Gen Companies with AI

Serge Massicotte, CEO, IVADO Labs

Fostering New-Gen Companies with AI

Serge Massicotte, CEO, IVADO Labs, a leading provider of AI-driven technology solutions that cultivates the next generation of companies with global reach and impact, is a leader, who believes in mobilizing people around strategic vision. With a successful history of structuring and running multi-site information technology organization with startups, growing companies and public corporations, Serge has created a niche for himself. A thorough professional with broad knowledge of best practices in software development and product management, this technology enthusiast is a highly result-oriented professional.

Excerpts from an interview with Serge:

Conception of IVADO Labs

It is evident that AI has enormous potential to revolutionize the supply chain. While there are off-the-shelf AI solutions available, these solutions do not address the need of companies with an elevated level of complexity in their supply, observes Serge. He adds that he realized the need to provide advanced business consulting services, AI & Operational Research, software development and scientific expertise in the market. “So, we developed bespoke AI supply chain solutions for companies with advanced supply chain challenges that are not well addressed by commercial solutions. We also partnered with a dozen top academics who have expertise in AI applied to the supply chain.”

AI-Driven Solutions, Benefits- Case Studies

IVADO Labs delivers customized AI solutions that combine the best of Machine Learning and OR techniques to solve the most complex supply chain problems. “To date, we’ve delivered several projects for clients. For example, we worked with an aerospace manufacturer to improve aftermarket spare part demand forecasting using AI for enhanced accuracy at the part-location level. This resulted in minimal downtime of operations and optimized costs for spare parts.”

Serge cites example of another transportation company. He says that with IVADO’s solutions, they were able to reduce wastes by optimizing the terminal’s assets with multiple OR models to generate automated production plans. “For a telco, we have been able to predict potential failures and provide clear guidance for repairs, leading to a reduction of unplanned downtime and a more efficient workforce.” He also says that for a port authority, the company used AI for fast identification and prioritization of critical cargo during the COVID-19 crisis by using Natural Language Processing techniques for cargo identification in substantial amounts of unstructured data and sharing critical data to key partners for immediate proactive actions.

The AI Journey

“It goes back to when I was a student in computer science in the early ’90s and was studying expert systems, fuzzy logic, and neural networks. I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of a computer to learn from data, and I first applied AI techniques in the supply chain back in 1997.” By 2012, Serge had embraced AI with different applications in predictive and prescriptive analytics with a start-up in the Bay Area, and from 2014 until 2017 he was the CTO of JDA Software, now known as Blue Yonder, where he established JDA Labs to develop AI solutions in the retail space using deep learning models. “This experience has provided a foundation for my current role at IVADO Labs.”

Challenges Galore

“When it comes to addressing the risk factors of AI, it’s best to start by executing small and easy AI use cases but strategize with the big picture in mind and allow enough time and money for discovery. Working with AI models is an empirical exercise — don’t try to boil the ocean and bring in external expertise to leverage best practices where needed.”

The AI Potential

AI is unlike any other technology breakthrough in history. That is because AI goes above and beyond our preconceived notions and expectations, according to Serge. “AI makes discoveries using factual data points, less prone to biases of users and business leaders. As a result, it is opening new opportunities never previously considered by strategic decision makers. AI can help to inform day-to-day decision-making by considering many more factors at a speed that humans cannot match. And AI solutions have the unprecedented ability to evolve as they learn from new data.”

Leadership Traits

“I believe leadership is about listening to and empowering people. I also believe that it is important to provide real-time feedback and to be direct, without being unnecessarily confrontational or personal. Finally, one has to walk the talk.” An approachable person, Serge feels that people feel comfortable bringing up their opinions with him, whether those are positive or negative. “They like my level of energy and enthusiasm in general, and also appreciate my technical background — they can discuss real matters of the business with me.”

Noting that perfection does not exist and, more importantly, it is not necessary to be perfect to be successful, Serge recommends young leaders to set realistic expectations with customers. “AI will not magically solve all problems. Do not underestimate the time and the level of effort to access data! And do not underestimate the change management aspect of implementing AI solutions,” he adds.

The Success Mantras

“Listen and learn from your experience and from others daily. Set aspirational but realistic goals, and never lose sight of the end goal. Enjoy the journey because the end goal will pass by very quickly if you reach it at all. Be kind to yourself and reward your achievements, small or big” he signs off.

Company: IVADO Labs


Management:  Serge Massicotte, CEO

Founded Year: 2018

Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec

Description: IVADO Labs is an AI-powered start-up based in Montreal, one of the world’s fastest-growing AI communities.


MemryX: a new Edge AI startup that has developed a highly efficient and scalable AI accelerator.

Keith Kressin, President & CEO, MemryX

MemryX: a new Edge AI startup that has developed a highly efficient and scalable AI accelerator.

As the CEO of MemryX, Inc., an innovative Edge AI startup founded by professors at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Keith Kressin has been a passionate entrepreneur. Prior to joining MemryX, Keith was a SVP at Qualcomm, leading a spate of activities including the Snapdragon roadmap, technologies for application processing, company strategy, competitive analysis, and more. In an interview, he speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:

Conception of MemryX

“Our team wanted to develop an AI accelerator that was customer friendly in terms of ease-of-use and scalability, while providing excellent technical metrics.” Adds Keith that the team wanted to develop a hardware accelerator that could be adapted to any trained AI software model, rather than needing to train and then modify the model to run well on target hardware. “So our focus from the start was on developing technology to meet a key customer need and hence MemryX was born.”

Challenges galore – AI technology

AI continues to grow in a variety of different applications and industries as it is used to make cities, companies, and hospitals smarter, help increasing manufacturing efficiencies, better support education inside and outside the classroom, and more.  “AI can add a layer of intelligence into any device that computes. Of course, every new technology is just a tool and those tools need to be used to increase to increase productivity and quality of life, rather than the limit freedoms or increase natural biases.” MemryX envisions accelerating Edge AI by providing a highly efficient and scalable solution that is simple to deploy and support.”

The key is the company’s innovative MemryX architecture.  “Our architecture was designed to natively support pre-trained AI models with high efficiency and utilization.  If one doesn’t consider model structures and framework, and only focuses on HW efficiency the result is theoretically strong, but practically weak.  MemryX architecture was designed not for white papers or theoretical achievements, but for broad customer scale and deployment.” The combination of at-memory computing, pure dataflow, and our unique memory-based fabric interconnect all support our ability to scale verified models into high volume with a very simple to use software SDK.

One trap for AI is focusing on the core technology itself, rather than the practical application of that technology throughout the entire value chain.  As in most industries, solving customer needs be in the forefront. AI is extremely complex with many facets.  It is also very exciting and dynamic field that attracts individuals with a wide variety of background and skills. The key is to stay focused on the larger picture while being extremely adaptable to market and technology changes.

Leadership traits

“It all starts with clear and transparent organization & communications.  People need to understand objectives, timelines, and be given the tools/resources to achieve well defined goals.  Teams need to be encouraged to be open and honest.”  Realistic, approachable, in-tune with all functions of the entire organization, humble, goal-centric, empowering, and one who honestly cares about the company, the team, and the individual. Keith’s leadership style is approachable with realistic expectations and stays in-tune with all functions of the entire organization. He honestly cares about the company, the team, and the individual.

“Fear in failing is usually rooted in the reaction to the failure in terms of embarrassment or punishment. However, if leaders encourage an intelligent risk-taking culture where we learn from our failures, then we grow to become a stronger organization. Further, failures from risk-taking can be minimized through proper hiring, organization, funding, and goal setting.”

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RAIN Defense + AI: Creating synergies between AI and defense sectors

Norine MacDonald KC, President & Founder, RAIN DEFENSE + AI

RAIN Defense + AI: Creating synergies between AI and defense sectors

Norine MacDonald is the President and Founder of RAIN Defense + AI, an exciting new global platform on AI and Defense. She was formerly President and Founder of The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), an international security and development think tank founded in 2002. Ms MacDonald is a former Distinguished Research Fellow for National Defense University in Washington and a graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management program in Artificial Intelligence (AI). In an interview, she speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:

Conception of RAIN Defense + AI

For Ms Norine MacDonald it is clear that the business of war is being overtaken by the advent of AI, and a competitive and fast-moving global environment. Western governments need to be competitive with other countries, primarily China, that have been investing heavily in the sector.

The AI + Defense sector offers significant investment opportunities, particularly for non-traditional business players. The global AI + Defense market is projected to grow to $61 billion by 2027.

“There is no specialized single company or platform for the AI + Defense sector to source comprehensive, intelligible and relevant knowledge/data and connect to all the players globally” said Ms Norine MacDonald.

RAIN Defense + AI is an exciting new venture working at the critical intersection of AI and Defense:

  • RAIN INDUSTRY provides access to expert knowledge and data analytics on current and emerging AI technologies on defense platforms for all market participants across sectors and geographies.
  • RAINCLOUD creates a global community content platform with a validated network of multidisciplinary professionals, with curated data and news and product info in AI and defense.

RAIN, the AI and defense solution: the RAINCLOUD global platform

To understand and unpack the complex world of AI and defense, RAIN  produces commercial INDUSTRY Reports which provide:

  • benchmarking  various defense sector platforms and AI, along with trends and forecasting.
  • complete information “Who’s Who” data on individuals working in the field of AI and defence.
  • a data and directory on Venture Capital players active in AI and defense. Norine says: “We have mapped the 500 most influential individuals in the US in our RAIN 500 and we have done an extensive report on the 40 main venture capital firms in the US and the 150 defense and dual-use startups they invest in.”

As a gateway to RAIN Research data and content platform RAINCLOUD will be launched in 2023.

“For RAIN, our access to government clients has been made much easier through our business connection as a data provider with Grist Mill Exchange, which functions as a data marketplace for government and national security enterprises. Through Grist Mill Exchange we will be able to provide our INDUSTRY reports to  government stakeholders and to onboard them to the RAINCLOUD global platform where they can connect with  AI startups, venture capitalists, defense companies and scientists working in the broad field of AI and defense.”

AI and Defence: a new Ethical Challenge

“AI solutions in defense are now more than ever driven by the commercial sector and dual-use technology. While onboarding such technology in the military world is revolutionary in terms of competitiveness, we cannot ignore the important ethical questions inherent in their adoption.”

AI enables unprecedented opportunities for more autonomy, and this changes the human-machine interaction. Therefore, we decided from the beginning that RAIN would also have an Ethics Division, which helps unpack the ethical and legal arguments involved and supports discussion and debate on these issues, she observed.

Leadership Traits

“The RAIN team has been working together for more than 20 years on international security and policy issues in Afghanistan, Latin America and the Middle East. To launch a new company requires both creativity and stamina. We are lucky to have a close-knit team that works well both independently and together.” Norine believes in having a hands-on approach to the work in the sense that she involves herself in the conception, research and implementation of projects, from field work in conflict zones contexts to testifying at the highest levels of government. “If you have a good business idea stick to it –  but at the same time be flexible and adapt as you go along. Hard work, high standards and discipline will never fail.”

AI, the Defense sector and start-ups

In the AI and defense sector, there are exciting new companies developing defense and dual-use technology. These start-ups benefit from new ways to work directly with the government to develop and test their prototypes. At the same time, there are new venture capital firms that focus especially on defense and national security-oriented startups.

“We want to bring all these actors together on our RAINCLOUD platform for mutual benefit. Companies will be able to showcase their latest products and services in our virtual trade show”, MacDonald said.

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Optimizing Industrial Business Processes with AI

Rudolf Felix, CEO, PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH

PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH: Optimizing Industrial Business Processes with AI

Rudolf Felix is the CEO of PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH, a German company that specializes in developing and providing software solutions for complex technical systems. Rudolf Felix has been with FLS in the PSI Group since 2008 and has been the CEO since already 1992. Under his leadership, the company has grown to become a leading provider of software solutions for technical systems, particularly in the fields of energy, industry, and transportation. Rudolf Felix has also been involved in various research and development projects related to fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence and has published numerous papers in these fields. In an interview, he speaks on an array of subjects. Excerpts:

Conception of PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme

Says Rudolf that making decisions is crucial for successful and efficient operation in every industrial business process. Decision-making processes that are based on business goals must reflect both long-term strategies and the current operational situation. If the decisions are based on data and the pros and cons between the business process goals are machine evaluated, machine learned and optimized, business process owners and operators get the best possible benefit. “An optimized and explainable decision support is particularly helpful here. And this is exactly what PSI FLS and the specially developed Qualicision AI technology is all about. It combines both technical and economical business goals. An efficient, easy-to-use, and explainable software that is used for business process optimization is what we deliver. It is data-based, and balances out conflicting business process goals ahead of classic algorithms and provides for the performance that our customers across many industrial sectors appreciate.”

AI- Challenges galore

According to Rudolf, many of the industry’s industrial AI use cases have long been developed and in use. Perhaps in the pandemic time, the constant work with computers at home is an additional momentum. “But in my view, business processes in industry have evolved in their objectives rather because of the growing importance of topics such as digitalization, exploitation of data, sustainability and green energy or new possibilities to integrate automatized decision-making in context with many new important aspects in business processes. Therefore, the complexity of the processes has rather increased.”

PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme AI solution

Qualicision AI stands for qualified support with decision-making when optimizing business processes. Qualicision technology was originally based on fuzzy logic which has been extended by a full stack of AI methods that combines the advantages of all of them. In this combination Qualicision AI helps to integrate decision-making expertise of people with business process know-how and connects it with data-driven AI. In addition, the Qualicision AI software has been extended by highly automated deployment. Machine-learned explainability mechanisms are part of it, too. In business processes there are a lot of pros and cons when decisions must be made. Therefore, uncertainty is intrinsic even if all data is clearly measured and in good shape. Automated recognition of these kinds of uncertainty, in particular stemming from the variety of the data and interaction between decision options, is extremely important. “Our Qualicision AI based tools help to identify and to exploit tolerances in the business processes and to optimize out uncertainty. Many use cases show that once Qualicision AI is introduced the business process efficiency increases by 10 to even 25 percent compared to the previous unoptimized status quo.”

Leadership traits

Trying to get inspired from people for whom and with whom you work and trying to inspire them, too. Everything else is the right technology you must have and the passion to work with it.  “When you work on something with passion, the thought of possible difficulties is more of a drive. This is especially true when you are working on the implementation of something you have been involved in from the beginning on.”

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