February 19, 2024

Start AI Flanders: Get more out of your data with artificial intelligence


Are you looking to exploit the data of your company more effectively? Do you wish to understand the possibilities that artificial intelligence (AI) can offer your business? The "Start AI" program, introduced in Flanders, is designed to assist companies from all sectors in discovering how to incorporate AI into their operations. B12 Consulting is proud to have been selected as an expert in this program to support Flemish companies in their transformation and innovation process.

In this article, we answer the main questions the Start AI program in Flanders. If your company is located in Wallonia, have a look at our article related to the Start IA program for Walloon companies.

How can AI boost my company?

Artificial intelligence can help companies of any size in any sector. It is used to automate laborious tasks, make process more efficient, gain new insights from the different types of data or increase the creativity.

Here are some ways AI can transform your business:

  • Streamlining the supply chain: AI can forecast potential disruptions or inefficiencies, allowing for preemptive measures to reduce expenses.
  • Enhanced predictive maintenance: Real-time equipment monitoring by AI enables tailored maintenance recommendations, predicting failures to avoid expensive downtime.
  • Automated document handling: From text to complex data, AI can extract and analyze information, summarizing, editing, and even making decisions based on document content.
  • Identifying anomalies and defects: AI algorithms improve product quality by detecting irregularities across various data sources, from production line images to transaction records.
  • Assisting human resources: AI enhances the hiring process with analytical tools that work alongside human evaluations for a more effective recruitment strategy.
  • Analyzing markets in real-time: AI examines market trends and competitor activities, providing insights to inform your strategic planning.
  • Energy use optimization: AI can autonomously regulate energy consumption in your operations, cutting costs and reducing environmental impact.
  • Elevating customer service: AI-driven chatbots can manage routine inquiries around the clock, allowing your team to focus on more complex issues.
  • Boosting sales: AI tailors product offerings by analyzing customer purchase patterns, enhancing conversion rates and profits.
  • Minimizing customer attrition: Predictive analytics by AI can pinpoint customers at risk of leaving, enabling proactive retention efforts.
  • Creating digital twins: AI generates virtual models of physical systems or machines, facilitating optimization through simulation and testing.
  • Refining processes: In sectors like chemicals or pharmaceuticals, AI refines production parameters for better yield or quality and proactively identifies potential issues.

These examples represent just a fraction of the myriad ways in which AI can enhance operational effectiveness and propel innovation across various business sectors.

What is the Start AI program in Flanders?

Start AI is an initiative under the Vlaams Industrie Partnerschap, aimed at companies wanting to better understand the potential of AI and data science within their business context.

During a 3-day individual coaching session, you will be assisted by AI and data experts with hands-on experience in your business context to explore the value of data and/or the opportunities of AI for your company. After this individual coaching, you will have:

  • a clear understanding of the most relevant AI/data opportunities for your business;
  • a better estimate of their impact on your business processes;
  • identified the internal and external stakeholders for your AI/data journey;
  • practical tools to better assess the ROI (return on investment) of your AI/data projects;
  • completed the European Digital Maturity Assessment.

Following the Start AI program, participants have the option to further develop the proposed AI solutions through a follow-up program: the KMO Groeisubsidies (VLAIO), which offers up to €50,000 in subsidies for effective implementation.

Who can participate?

The participation in the Start AI initiative is open to any SME compliant with European standards, as well as larger companies without Vlaio support. Participants must be based in Flanders (headquarters or office) and possess a business registration number. The specific financial and administrative terms can be found on the website of Agoria. Contact us if you have any remaining questions.

For companies based in Wallonia, please have a look at our page dedicated to the Start IA program in Wallonia.

What is the budget?

The participation fee is €1,645, excluding VAT. The assignment of the AI expert will have a maximum value of €4,185, excluding VAT. Flemish companies that do not meet the SME definition can also follow a Start AI trajectory at €5,468, excluding VAT.

When can I apply?

New calls are announced periodically. Once your application has been submitted, it will be evaluated within two weeks by the "AI Flanders Expert Panel". If your application is approved, your trajectory can begin. Have a look at the Agoria webpage or contact us if the latter seems out of date.

How do I participate?

Contact us for an initial discussion. We help you with the administrative formalities.

Would you like to boost your company's growth and competitiveness with AI? Don't hesitate to contact us at info+start-ia-nl@b12-consulting.com.

Caroline Vandenplas, Managing Partner

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