AI for health and nutrition: the Circular Health project has kicked off

18/01/2021 By

Leveraging artificial intelligence in hospital settings and in the agro-food industry. These are the missions of the Circular Health project, winner, for the “Industry” area, of the AI call for grants by Compagnia di San Paolo. The initiative is coordinated by the University of Turin and sees Fondazione Bruno Kessler as project leader in one of the projects. The goal? Identifying innovative approaches for the application of artificial intelligence in two crucial sectors of contemporary society: health and nutrition.

The two missions of the Circular Health for Industry project

In December 2020, the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation, as part of the Industry section of the “Artificial Intelligence, man and society” call, approved the funding for the Circular Health for Industry project, coordinated by the University of Turin. The intent is to include in the study not only aspects of human health, but also those in connection to animal wellbeing in the food industry and the quality of agricultural production, which starts from plant health, in an interdisciplinary approach. It will develop a method for collecting and analyzing data with artificial intelligence techniques, focusing on two mission projects.

First project: a Digital Twin for hospitals

The project with Città della Salute e della Scienza and the Cottolengo Hospital, led by Trento-based Fondazione Bruno Kessler, and by its Process & Data Intelligence research unit which is part of the new Digital Health and Wellbeing center, will lead for the next two years process mining and predictive business process management skills for the automated reconstruction of hospital management processes. We will try to create a digital twin of the hospital to allow optimization, forecast outcome and timing, and dynamically reallocate resources to address changes.

This mission project – says Fondazione Bruno Kessler’s research unit Head Chiara Ghidini (in the video) – aims to apply robust and innovative technologies for process mining and predictive process monitoring in the field with the aim of collecting and making the most of the data available in hospital information systems in order to improve processes. The application of artificial intelligence techniques to the health industry is a great opportunity that can contribute to consolidating the right to sustainable health. This mission project is an important opportunity to create and consolidate synergies between research and relevant players such as hospitals towards achieving this goal».

Second project: AI for the agro-food industry

The project, concerning the agro-food industry, led by the Agroinnova Competence Center of the University of Turin in cooperation with the Departments of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences and Veterinary Sciences, with the food processing company Fudex and the Vanzetti-Holstein breeding farm, from agricultural production to breeding. This consortium will develop and apply AI technologies to help companies address challenges such as the spread of plant and animal pathogens, climate change and environmental disasters, changes in prices and consumer behavior, and to increase production and safety in food of agri-food productions.

«We are really satisfied – explains Maria Lodovica Gullino, director of the Agroinnova Center – as in this past year, in a moment of great difficulty, we have seen plants carve out their space in the field of health. This is a pilot project, which can be replicated in other systems. Plants are essential not only for the health of the environment but also for that of humans and animals. In fact, they produce most of our food and food safety depends on their health. Furthermore, the application of Artificial Intelligence to this industry is crucial for the innovation of the local production. It will be an exceptional added value for the companies involved».

In order to optimize the processes, training on AI will also be provided to the local authorities involved, involving the Piedmontese Competence Center for Industry 4.0 – CIM4.0 , which includes the Polytechnic and the University of Turin together with 23 industrial partners.


The Compagnia San Paolo call

Taking advantage of the momentum gained in Europe, in January 2020 Compagnia di San Paolo published the call for proposals “Artificial Intelligence, man and society”, created by the Enhancing research Mission for the Planet Objective, with the aim of supporting innovative research projects aimed at advancing scientific knowledge in the field of artificial intelligence, with tangible impacts in economic and social terms, thus setting up new models with which to combine resources and skills.

This call stems from the concept that the rapid growth of technologies and solutions based on Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and related methods for data enhancement, represents an opportunity for man and society. They promise, in fact, to deeply change how we approach work, education, management of economic and cultural activities, personal and social relationships.

The goals

We deemed it important to open a call for proposals with an approach that was in line with the main European calls, – explains Francesco Profumo, president of Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo and of FBK‘s – thus one that envisages collaborations in which several research institutions work alongside local partners. The “Artificial intelligence, man and society” call was built as a toolbox to be provided to the social and productive fabric. This is because as a Foundation we believe that innovation is a competitive lever that allows anyone in the world to emerge and create value, for themselves and for the community. Instead of funding generic research projects – adds Profumo – we support the applied experimentation of AI in the fields of museums, health care and education. The hope is that every euro invested can be multiplied by our stakeholders. This action by Compagnia di San Paolo targets a national and international context in which Artificial Intelligence is seen as a topic of great relevance, which is reflected in the European agenda in programs such as the Digital Europe Program (€ 7,5 billion), Horizon Europe (€ 95,5 billion) and Next Generation Eu (€ 750 billion) and a similar initiative at national level for artificial intelligence developed by a Group of Experts appointed by the Ministry for Economic Development. Both the European Union and Italian experts promote an anthropocentric approach to artificial intelligence, with the aim of supporting and improving human skills and improving the quality of life of people within the social and economic system in which they live: Compagnia di San Paolo has moved along this path, always attentive to and aligned with European strategies».

The project – stresses coordinator Guido Boella, director of the Computer Science Department of the University of Turin – adopts the innovative Circular Health approach in the management of the local health industry, with an approach to design and implementation of programs, policies, regulation, industrial production and research in which a number of sectors communicate and work together to obtain better results for public health, understood in the fullest sense».

Project info

Title: Circular Health for Industry (link to call)

Leader Partner: University of Turin – Department of Computer Science. Principal Investigator: Prof. Guido Boella

Research and development partners: University of Turin’s Agroinnova Competence Center, Fondazione Bruno Kessler – Process & Data Intelligence Research Unit;

Local partners: Città della Salute e della Scienza; Cottolengo Hospital; Fudex; Vanzetti-Holstein

Third parties: University of Turin – Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences; University of Turin – Department of Veterinary Sciences; Consoft Systems; CNR-IRCRES; CIM4.0.

> Link to the news on the Compagnia San Paolo Foundation website3 milioni di € per sostenere tre progetti di ricerca innovativi negli ambiti Arte-Cultura, Educazione-Formazione e Industria

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About the Author

Marzia Lucianer: Marzia Lucianer, giornalista scientifica, responsabile Press Office and Digital Communication di TrentinoSalute4.0