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Bank employees enter generative AI competition

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A man using a laptop to enter an AI contest

BBVA, a Spanish multinational financial services company based in Madrid and Bilbao, Spain, is looking to spot and train in-house talent in the use of the large language models (LLMs) that are behind the success of the likes of ChatGPT. The move aims to explore more projects based on generative artificial intelligence and recently attracted over 400 employees competing in a DataRally. The competition tested their ability in interacting with AI-based models. Impressed by the positive feedback received from participants, the bank may now apply the DataRally concept to the generative AI courses it will be running as part of its Data University in-house training program.

The Spanish bank has launched several exploratory projects in recent months to gauge the potential of generative artificial intelligence in making organizational processes more efficient and generating additional added value for its customers, all the while ensuring the utmost security.

Around 440 employees from all the countries in which the bank operates put their skills to the test by taking on 12 large language model (LLM) challenges spread across various blocks. During these trials, they were tasked with processing quantitative information, finding anomalies in financial reports or identifying, scoring and classifying the level of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of a fictitious customer based on their comments, among other tasks. At the end of each checkpoint, the participants received feedback on what kind of prompts or commands they should have entered in order to successfully complete the challenge.

“Generative AI is here to stay,” said Curro Maturana, Global Head of GenAI at BBVA, “and it has enormous potential for businesses as they revolutionize their internal processes and embrace global development projects that will allow them to deploy their products and services simultaneously in different countries. That is why we are already training the best talent at BBVA.”

To boost training in generative AI skills, BBVA will be making generative AI courses part of its in-house Data University data training program.

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Energy Storage Summit gathers global experts in London

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Energy Storage Summit gathers global experts in London
UK minister of state for climate change and energy Graham Stuart was one of the key speakers at the Energy Storage Summit | Photo: David Stanley-Tate

Nearly 1,000 experts and leaders in the global energy storage industry gathered in Hammersmith,  London this week to attend the 9th Energy Storage Summit 2024.

The event, one of Europe’s largest networking events for the energy storage sector, hosted over a thousand delegates from across the globe.

The line up of speakers included Nick Winser,  commissioner at the National Infrastructure Commission; Doriana Forleo Executive Director at Energy Storage Coalition, and UK minister of state for climate change and energy Graham Stuart.

According to analysts, by 2030 the global cumulative installed capacity for energy storage will have reached 1,420 GWh, with large-scale development of storage power stations from 0.1 GWh to 1 GWh and then to 10 GWh becoming an inevitable trend. However, such expansion will bring with it challenges in cost efficiency, safety and operation and maintenance complexity, making the need for advanced storage technology and design more urgent.

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European product recalls increases for the fifth consecutive year 

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European product recalls increases for the fifth consecutive year 
Medical devices recalls increased 20% in 2023, according to report | Photo: Natanael Melchor

European product recalls increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2023, recording 12,498 total events. According to Sedgwick brand protection’s 2024 European State of the Nation Recall Index report, this represents an 18.5% increase over the previous record of 10,545 events, which was set in 2022.

Sedgwick’s quarterly Recall Index report analyses data from the UK and EU automotive, consumer product, food and drink, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries. This edition provides a comprehensive year-in-review analysis of 2023 recall data and product safety trends. The surge in European product recalls experienced in 2023 was driven by an increase in events in the consumer products (+49.1%), medical device (+20.0%), pharmaceutical (+7.7%), and food and drink (+7.0%) industries. Even though the automotive industry saw fewer recalls than it did in 2022 (-3.3%), 2023 still recorded the second-highest number of total events in the past ten years.  

Beyond the recall data and analysis, this report also provides essential insights into the regulatory developments and predictions that stakeholders should look out for in 2024. Regulators across the EU and UK are continuing to enact layers of regulations to protect the environment as well as public safety, as seen in 2023 with the EU Batteries Regulation and proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. Companies will need to be aware of not only their own actions but the operations and practices of their entire supply chain. Moreover, consumers are increasingly demanding greater transparency and information regarding product manufacturing and advertising, prompting regulators to introduce new measures addressing advertising and labelling practices.

In addition, there is increased enforcement against anticompetitive behaviour and cartel activity across sectors and geographic borders. Simultaneously, the EU is in the process of modernising existing regulations, while the UK builds its own regulatory framework independent of the EU. Against this backdrop, numerous ongoing global economic and political challenges persist, adding further complexity to the risk landscape.

“2024 is shaping up to be a busy year for regulatory activity, and industry stakeholders can expect to see more regulator and consumer scrutiny of product safety and the practices of businesses throughout the entire product lifecycle,” says Chris Occleshaw, International Product Recall Consultant at Sedgwick. “Amidst a complicated risk landscape rife with evolving challenges, businesses should take time to create a strategic and well-practiced plan for addressing product recalls and in-market challenges.”

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Applications open for EU Innovation Fund

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Applications open for EU Innovation Fund
Applications are open to entities of all sizes – from startups to those that are more established | Photo: Jason Goodman

The application window for the Mastercard Strive EU Innovation Fund is now open. The initiative is aimed at accelerating the development of solutions to support European small businesses on their digital journey.

The Strive EU Innovation Fund will provide up to 20 projects from EU member states with equity-free grants of up to €500,000, as well as any technical assistance and mentoring they may need to accelerate the development of their solutions.

Applications are open to entities of all sizes – from startups to those that are more established – provided they are soliciting innovation that helps Europe’s small business community to unlock working capital and credit through embedded finance, enhance digital safely by bolstering cybersecurity and harness artificial intelligence (AI) in business.    

Small businesses are the backbone of the European economy and – now more than ever – it is critical that they receive the support they need to join the digital economy,” said Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard Europe. “We are excited to open the application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund and to hear about some of the best projects coming from Europe’s most innovative minds over the coming months.”

Strive EU will build on the strengths of two country-specific initiatives in Europe, Strive Czechia and Strive UK. Since launching in 2021, Strive UK has reached over 1M entrepreneurs, connecting them to resources, training, and mentors to help them navigate the digital economy. Strive Czechia is working to rapidly grow local stakeholder capacities, reaching MSEs across the country with new service lines, including peer shadowing and technical assistance, with the goal of reaching over 250,000 MSEs.

In addition to the Innovation Fund, Mastercard will establish a Strive EU Small Business Council to convene the European entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage collaboration. Chaired by Mark Barnett, the Council will comprise 10-15 influential experts, private sector entities and small business representatives, who will be announced in early February.    

The application window for the Strive EU Innovation Fund will be open until March 11, 2024. To find out more, please visit: https://strivecommunity.org/innovation-fund-eu

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