Nvidia exec: Israel one of ‘most exciting places’ for us

Israeli start-ups make up the largest fraction, per capita, of the approximately 3,200 start-ups currently involved in “Inception.”

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October 20, 2018 18:55
3 minute read.
Nvidia chief scientist Bill Dally addresses the GPU Technology Conference in Tel Aviv

Nvidia chief scientist Bill Dally addresses the GPU Technology Conference in Tel Aviv, 18 October, 2018. (photo credit: NIR HADAR)

 
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Nearly 3,000 Israeli developers, hi-tech professionals, investors and entrepreneurs filled Tel Aviv’s convention center on Thursday at technology giant Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC).

This year’s crowd, more than double the attendance at last year’s debut GTC in Israel, learned from Nvidia’s evolution from an industry-leading provider of computer graphics cards to powering processors at the forefront of deep learning and artificial intelligence solutions.

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Today, the company develops deep learning solutions in a range of industries, including smart cities, healthcare, retail, robotics and self-driving cars.

“Israel is one of the most exciting places for us because so much innovation takes place here,” Will Ramey, senior director and global head of developer programs at Nvidia, told The Jerusalem Post.

“There is a strong university system and a strong network of start-ups. Unlike the rest of the world, many of the people who we meet for the first time in Israel have already experimented or already built something using our GPU accelerators,” Ramey said.

Deep learning is at the heart of Nvidia’s innovation today, and its virtual “Inception” start-up accelerator aims to assist artificial intelligence and data science-based entrepreneurs during critical stages of product development, prototyping and deployment.

Israeli start-ups make up the largest fraction, per capita, of the approximately 3,200 start-ups currently involved in “Inception.”

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“There’s a very intense focus of innovation in start-ups and established companies in Israel. Many of whom are making innovative sensors and systems that are then used in the creation of autonomous vehicles, of all shapes and sizes,” Ramey added.

“I think every indication is that the conference will return to Israel for another year,” Ramey said.

The conference highlighted the best in Israeli innovation, with a shortlist of eight teams competing for the title of “Israel’s best artificial intelligence start-up” at the Nvidia Inception Awards.

TheWhollySee, a small team developing training data sets for autonomous vehicle imaging sensors, took home the $100,000 prize and an Nvidia DGX Station personal supercomputer.

Yet before the prizes were awarded and thousands of hi-tech professionals descended on the convention center, Nvidia opened its doors on Wednesday to a more modest number of participants taking part in its Deep Learning Institute (DLI) program, which offers hands-on training in artificial intelligence and accelerated computing to solve real-world problems.

The program is offered both online and in instructor-led workshops, with certified coaches teaching hi-tech developers, data scientists, researchers and students how to implement and deploy end-to-end deep learning projects in a matter of hours.

“Nvidia really believes in academia. The company has a large number of collaborations all over the world with the top universities. We are a firm believer in the next generation,” Liron Freind, Director of Developer Relations at Nvidia Israel, told the Post.

“We are working with some of the top universities in Israel, and we are in touch with all the top professors. We are working closely with everyone implementing deep learning solutions in any university department, not only in computer science,” Freind added.

Nvidia has been working alongside researchers at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology developing an autonomous vehicle. On Thursday, they showcased their driverless car equipped with Nvidia’s autonomous car development platform, given by the company for free, at the conference.

The company significantly subsidizes and supports the cost of delivering its DLI training program for its university partners. The DLI’s student certification program is a stamp of approval for potential employers seeking capable graduates with deep learning expertise.

In addition to identifying innovative start-ups and providing hands-on training to those working in the field of deep learning, Nvidia is expanding its research presence in Israel.

Nvidia Chief Scientist Bill Dally told the conference that the company would be establishing a new artificial intelligence research center in Israel, under the leadership of former Google Brain senior executive Prof. Gal Chechik.

“Despite being a small country, Israel is a huge force in the artificial intelligence industry. I am amazed time and time again by the quality of the research, the researchers, and the hunger for new ideas,” Dally said.

“I am delighted to announce today the establishment of an Nvidia research department in Israel in the field of artificial intelligence, under the leadership of the esteemed scientist Prof. Gal Chechik.”

In addition to the new department, Nvidia also plans to significantly expand its team of deep learning engineers in Israel and recruit a further 20 employees at its development center in Tel Aviv.

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