Top 10 Compelling Stories from Benelux in 2023

In this collection of articles, we explore the groundbreaking developments in the information technology sector in the Benelux region. Despite its small population, Benelux has emerged as a pioneer in the field. Our top 10 stories include fascinating insights into Belgian quantum computing and the Netherlands’ plans for its own GPT-NL. However, the region’s success in technology research and development does pose challenges, particularly in terms of acquiring a sufficient IT workforce, especially in the Netherlands.

One article in our annual review sheds light on the Netherlands’ struggle to address the shortage of IT professionals and the government’s efforts to overcome this obstacle. Surprisingly, the solution may be right in front of them. In this review, we explore an initiative to increase female representation in the IT profession. We also hear from two CIOs about their experiences in the Benelux region.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 stories from Benelux in 2023:

1. The Netherlands’ independent research organization TNO, the Netherlands Forensic Institute, and SURF, a cooperative association of Dutch educational and research institutions, collaborate to develop GPT-NL, an open language model that promotes transparency, fairness, and testability in AI.

2. Shana Massar, an engineer in the quantum computing program at Imec, explains the purpose of quantum computers and their relevance in addressing highly complex problems.

3. Peter Werkhoven, chief scientist at TNO and professor at Utrecht University, highlights TNO’s role as an innovation engine in the Netherlands, bridging the gap between academic research and its practical application in industries and government.

4. VHTO, the Dutch gender diversity expertise center for STEM, organizes Girls’ Day annually to introduce girls aged 10 to 15 to STEM and IT subjects, aiming to address the underrepresentation of women in the IT sector.

5. Imec, a Belgian research and technology organization, completes a project that offers manufacturers innovative concepts to enhance data networks, reducing costs, improving yield, and minimizing power consumption. These advancements are expected to facilitate faster data transmission in data centers and 5G applications.

6. The Dutch government emphasizes the importance of algorithms that respect human rights, following the negative impact of algorithms in the Dutch child benefits scandal. State secretary for digitization, Alexandra van Huffelen, advocates for citizens’ control over their digital lives and trust in the digital world.

7. SHV Holdings, a multinational company based in the Netherlands, presents unique challenges for its group CIO, Richard Ventre, due to its diverse range of industries and business strategies. This requires substantial support for digital transformation and meeting various digital needs.

8. Gcore, a company dedicated to revolutionizing European innovation in AI, aims to challenge the dominance of AI infrastructure in the US. Its Gcore Generative AI Cluster, announced in 2023, offers advanced support for AI training.

9. The Dutch government allocates €123m to enhance collaborations between vocational education and industry, addressing the shortage of engineering and ICT professionals. This investment aims to support the energy and digital transition in the Netherlands.

10. Marijn Grevink, the leader of digital transformation at Mars in the Netherlands, emphasizes the urgent need for a global digital transformation at Mars Incorporated, one of the world’s largest family-owned companies, with a focus on both local and international levels.

These stories highlight the remarkable advancements, challenges, and initiatives in the Benelux region’s thriving IT sector.

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