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Innovative A.I. technology breaking into the small business market


A small business summit returned to the University of Lethbridge, inspiring students, entrepreneurs and the business community. Innovation and technology were among the summit's key themes this year. Jaclyn Kucey shows us how some are tapping into artificial intelligence to try and solve supply chain challenges.

In an opportunity to hear from the industry’s best, the RBC small business summit at the University of Lethbridge highlighted innovation from Alberta-made companies.

“There’s so much innovation happening just in general. To keep up with that is really challenging,” said Shawn Needham, a University of Lethbridge alumni and now senior VP of global sales for Attabotics.

Needham presented the world’s first 3D robotics supply chain system to attendees on Friday.

“Rather than a person walking a warehouse and putting on 15 miles in a day, they’ll stand at a station and the goods that somebody orders online will be brought to that person,” said Needham. “That’s why it’s called ‘good to person’… Very efficient from an order standpoint.”

Attabotics is a six year old business that started in Calgary that’s now entering the commercial market.

Attabotics saw the global impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on supply chains and found artificial intelligence could be the answer to fill gaps in the system.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Looking at those technologies that really future-proof your supply chains is critical,” said Needham.

Luis Escobar, interim assistant dean of graduate studies at the University of Lethbridge, said summits like these are beneficial for budding entrepreneurs.

“When you have the ability to find efficiencies, then companies have the ability to increase stakeholder value to make money. And that’s all the incentive you need for an entrepreneur student to realize that maybe this can be a good business,” said Escobar.

Emilio Ficaccio, a fourth-year student at the U of L’s Dhillon School of Business, used his passion for personal training to create E-Fitness, a system that uses A.I. to do nutrition, fitness and training programming for clients.

“I kind of view A.I. as my generation’s internet coming out,” said Ficaccio, “I think that people that can adopt it as early as possible are going to be ahead of the curve.”

Ficcacio has seen how A.I. can build websites, videos and marketing material in a matter of seconds. It’s inspired him to think big.

“It’s just incredible to see what can happen if you have the vision and the team,” said Ficaccio.


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