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Startups in the Turku region | A walk and talk with Iman from Silo AI

Iman Azimi found the Ph.D. position of his dreams in the University of Turku where he could combine two of his main interests: AI and mHealth. After 6 years of living in Turku, he joined the Silo AI team – the biggest private AI lab in the Nordics! Silo AI started off in the Turku region and has been growing full speed with an open-minded attitude. How does Iman find working and living in Turku?

  • About the company: We are Silo AI – A private AI lab on a mission to build a European flagship AI company. We build AI-driven solutions and products to enable autonomous vehicles, industry 4.0, and smart devices, networks and cities.
  • Founded: 2017
  • Team: More than 250 members of which around 30 in Turku
  • Location of the office: ElectroCity, Kupittaa (+ 7 other offices)
  • Latest achievement: We got the Turku Chamber of Commerce ICT award.
  • Random fact: People are very open-minded at Silo AI and we’re hiring people all over the world. This is one of the advantages of working in Silo AI. There are no limits!
AI scientist Iman Azimi is originally from Iran, but he has lived a very international life such as studying in Italy, doing research in the US, and traveling around the world. © Ninna Valencia / CYF Digital

I met Iman by the River Aura which flows through the city of Turku. The river is known to everyone who has visited Turku – its shores are full of cultural attractions, boat restaurants, cafés, and museums. The city dwellers, as well as tourists, love to spend their time sitting by the riverbanks, enjoying a cool drink on a riverboat, or simply admiring the views on a daily walk. AI scientist Iman is not an exception and he has enjoyed these corners already for many years. What led him to Turku and how has he found life in the city?

Why did you choose the Aura Riverbank for our meeting spot?

“The Aura River is the heart of the city. This is a beautiful place for a nice walk in Turku and I believe the river is the main reason why the city was found right here. I’ve spent a lot of time here, especially in the summertime.”

“The Aura River is the heart of the city.”

Iman came to Turku originally to study for his Ph.D. in the field of Information and Communications Technology. His background is in biomedical engineering, and he had previously studied AI and Robotics at the University of Rome. After graduating he found that he could continue his academic career in Turku by combining two of his main interests (i.e., AI and mHealth) at the time.

“The position in Turku was relevant to what I was doing, as well as what I wanted to do in the future. I could grow here. This place has had a significant impact on my life.”

One of the places Iman personally enjoys the most in Turku is the beautiful riverside of the River Aura. © Ninna Valencia / CYF Digital

Working in ElectroCity

Silo AI has locations in multiple cities around Finland as well as Sweden, Denmark, and the USA. Their Turku office is located at the ElectroCity in Kupittaa – the fastest growing business area in Turku. Kupittaa attracts businesses from different industries. In addition, many of the universities’ facilities are located in the same buildings which makes it easy to cooperate and form networks.

“The first Silo AI offices in Turku were at Werstas. This allowed us to grow organically by adding more office space as required. After that it was natural to expand into our own office in the same building. Especially the traffic connections in the Kupittaa area have been an important consideration for us.”

Although the Kupittaa area is a prominent business district, it is also home to Kupittaanpuisto, Finland’s biggest city park, that offers many after-work leisure activities. That is why some refer to the Kupittaa area as Turku’s “living room”.

“The traffic connections in the Kupittaa area have been an important consideration for us.”

Iman has been working at Silo AI from home due to the pandemic, yet remote work hasn’t been an issue for him. Having team members in different cities automatically requires online meetings, so Iman has felt that remote working has been pleasant and efficient.

What does the Turku region offer for startups and international talents?

Silo AI’s Turku team members come from all around the world, for example from the Czech Republic, Vietnam, and Iran. Iman describes the atmosphere of the company as very bold and open-minded. And how does he feel about the Turku region in general?

“Turku region is a good place for startups because many people know English. That’s a big advantage for startups. You have the opportunity to get help from other parts of the world and you can find talents around the world for your startup. You’re not limited to people that are living in Turku.”

“Turku region is a good place for startups because many people know English. That’s a big advantage for startups.”

Iman is also working currently at the University of Turku. He values the high quality of education, as well as the international knowledge that the students bring with them. It can be a huge advantage for the startups in the region.

“Turku is a small city (compared to many metropolises) so you get the advantage of everything being close and easily available. We’re also missing big city problems like traffic jams.”

Iman believes that AI solutions can improve the quality of life. © Ninna Valencia / CYF Digital

What kind of work does Silo AI do?

Silo AI is developing AI solutions for different applications, for example in smart-city development, smart devices, products to enable autonomous vehicles, and healthcare applications, which is Iman’s specialty.

“We intend to improve the quality of life with AI solutions. Sometimes people are afraid that AI applications would replace people, but this is not the case. We are making applications that will support people in their work and daily life.”

“We intend to improve the quality of life with AI solutions.”

Iman’s expertise is in healthcare applications and he’s responsible for R&D, programming, and implementation with the support of his team members. The AI applications in healthcare are able to process big data collected by smart sensors in a short period of time and make it easily abstracted for doctors and healthcare specialists.

“These tools can help the decision making in health care. The big data collected would be too much for a person to go through, but computers and applications can provide the information from the big data in an abstracted form that is easy to understand.”

Half of the team members in Silo AI have a Ph.D., which is quite impressive! The knowledge gained at the university supports the work as well. When Iman is learning something at the university, he is able to use the knowledge in his work at Silo AI.

What does an international AI expert think about his current home city?     

“The language is not a problem here, so it was easy to move to Turku. Here people are nice, and I’ve had a very good experience in Turku.”