Centre for Financial Innovation

Chatbots that converse smarter and more naturally

NWO awards million dollar grant to research project LESSEN

4 Apr 2022 13:26 | HvA Expertisecentrum Applied Artificial Intelligence

Research project LESSEN receives a NWA grant of 4.6 million euro for research into and development of a versatile chatbot algorithm that needs little data to converse effectively. The project is an initiative of the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and several other universities and companies.

To work properly, today's chatbots consume a lot of computing power and thus energy, and are data-hungry. They also rely on large-scale language and application-specific, privacy-sensitive training data.

LESSEN focuses on developing efficient and effective chat technology that is accessible for multiple languages and application areas such as telecom, insurance and government services, using limited training data and computing power.

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is responsible for integrating the research results of the project and for translating the results and solutions to SMEs and education. For this, AUAS will receive a subsidy of approximately 1.4 million euro.

Dr. Frederik Situmeang, Associate Professor Digital Business and Research Methods at AUAS: 'Nothing is more frustrating than a useless conversation with a chatbot. With this consortium, we have an excellent team to develop effective, widely deployable chatbots that require little data. Besides scientific relevance, the project also has great social value: we help companies to communicate more effectively with their customers at lower costs.'

Project information LESSEN

The project starts in September 2022 and runs until the end of 2026. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the principal investigator of the project. On behalf of AUAS, the project is coordinated by Frederik Situmeang (Associate Professor), in collaboration with Jesse Weltevreden (Lecturer Digital Commerce), Tibert Verhagen (Lecturer Emerging Technology for Business), and the data science team of the Centre for Market Insights (CMI): Debarati Bhaumik, Diptish Dey, Rob Loke and Riccardo Pinossio. The CMI is one of the 7 labs of AUAS Centre of Expertise Applied AI.

Besides the UvA and AUAS, the following organisations participate in the consortium:

University of Leiden, University of Groningen, Radboud University, Achmea, Albert Heijn, Bol.com, KPN, Rasa Technologies, Ahold Delhaize, National Police Services Agency.

The grant was awarded within the National Science Agenda (NWA) programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).