“I am sure that this is the beginning of many new initiatives through which we will enable citizens, but also companies, easier communication with government institutions. Considering that our strategic focus in the next period is the development of artificial intelligence, I believe that opening the challenge on this topic will be a serious step forward in terms of technological advancement, but also an indicator that we have companies in the country that can offer solutions equally quality like the world ones”, Petrov started.
The director also announced the details regarding the features that the digital assistant should have as well as the way of applying for the public call, which was published on the FITD website.
“The digital assistant should be able to handle a complex request, to understand and respond in Macedonian, Albanian and English with great precision in a natural way. He also needs to deal with a number of issues and be able to understand the Macedonian language equally well in Latin and Cyrillic. The assistant should provide 24/7 availability and direct access to citizens through Facebook Messenger, Viber and Web and serve an unlimited number of people at the same time. The duration of the project, for which funds have been allocated, is 24 months, 12 months for development and implementation and 12 months for maintenance and upgrading. The competitor should be a legal entity that meets the following conditions: to be a company established in accordance with the Law on Companies and registered in the Central Register of the Republic of North Macedonia, to be majority Macedonian owned (with 50.1% or more), annual income of the company should not exceed 10 million euros in the previous two fiscal years, according to the financial statements. The full list of criteria is available on the Fund’s website” explained the director of FITD.
Petrov pointed out that the companies that will submit an application should present that they have experience and references from previously made and proven solutions for digital assistant based on AI in Macedonian, Albanian and English, at home and abroad, and the project proposal should contain the following activities: testing activities, design, research and development activities, digital assistant training and re-training activities.
“In terms of which costs are eligible for funding, I will list some of them: gross salaries – the amounts of gross salaries for the employees engaged in the project should correspond to the established practices of the award beneficiary before the start of the project, procurement and / or rental of equipment and consumables for research and development (procurement and / or rental of server, hosting, etc.), hiring experts / advisors for research and development. I would like to mention that for the development of this solution, no costs are allowed for the purchase of licenses for existing solutions for building a digital AI assistant” presented the director of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development, Kosta Petrov.
The main criteria according to which the project proposals will be evaluated are the degree of innovation, the capacity of the project team, the quality of the project, the potential for implementation and the impact of the project.
The project proposals will be evaluated by the Evaluation and Selection Committee, which is composed of two representatives from the partner institution, two experts in the field of challenge and one representative of the Fund.
The procedure for selection and selection of projects will take place in five steps, first an administrative check of the project documentation is made or whether it is complete and in accordance with the eligibility conditions stated in the public call, then the first evaluation of the project proposal is adopted or pre-selection, followed by a selection of the best project proposals, after which the presentation of the pre-selected project proposals will be enabled before the Commission for evaluation and selection. The last step is to choose a winning solution and sign a contract.
The application process is exclusively online. All information related to the call, the necessary documentation and the way of application are available at: https://fitr.mk/digitalai/